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AND now my task is finished. I have endeavoured, in tracing the long line of Past Life, to assimilate its extinct. forms to those now existing, that we may be enabled to catch a glimpse, however faint, of the unity and connection that run throughout the whole. Impossible as it was, within the limits of this Sketch, to enter into minute details, I have restricted myself to such an outline as might, with a little previous information, be intelligible to the majority of general readers, or which, in the want of that information, might be readily filled up by the perusal of any of the ordinary works on Geology. To those who may sneer at "smatterings of science," or grow facetious on the "dangers of a little learning" (and these are generally the mere technical tradesmen of some narrow department), I have only to answer, that a beginning must be made somewhere-that the little learning of to-day may form a foundation for the larger stock of the to-morrow-and that the mind is more likely to be stimulated to further inquiry by the generalisations of a vivid outline than by an array of details, the very nomenclature of which is often a puzzle and perplexity.

Whatever the amount of information conveyed, one of the main objects has been to keep prominently in view the operation of natural law, and to discourage the common

but mistaken idea of the cataclysmal and revolutionary in the past history of the globe. There can be no true notion of nature or of nature's requirements so long as her facts are viewed through the medium of the miraculous or abnormal; and it were greatly to be desired that in social and moral, as well as in natural science, we should learn to recognise in every instance the fixity and unerring operation of Law, and so cease to ascribe to the blind deity of Fate what our own knowledge ought to teach us to avoid and enable us to avert. Nor let it be thought, we again repeat, that by so doing we place a wider distance between the Creator and his works, or that any knowledge of this kind has a tendency to self-sufficiency and irreverence. Law is but the mode in which the Creator has chosen to manifest himself in his works, and the highest attainment of reason is to give intelligible expression to these modes, so that we may be enabled to determine their courses and anticipate their results. For this purpose I have endeavoured, throughout the preceding review, to group and associate facts, and therefrom to deduce such generalisations as seem warranted by the teachings of Palæontology. Where the objects of research are so fragmentary and obscure, where so few of the innumerable forms entombed in the crust of the globe can have yet been exhumed, and where so little has been done in distant regions to discover and identify contemporaneous formations, I am fully aware how provisional and temporary such generalisations must necessarily be. In the mean time, however, they serve as centres round which to marshal new facts, and they give consistency to what might otherwise appear a mass of heterogeneous and not unfrequently contradictory details.

And speaking of facts, I would here, in the name of Palæontology, solicit that assistance which lies, less or more, in the power of every one to afford. The objects of

research are scattered everywhere; and every chip and fragment that bears on it the impress of organic structure, however worthless it may appear to him who stumbles against it, may be the means not only of restoring a new form to the life of a former epoch, but the means of suggesting the connection that leads to the determination of some great creational law. Much as has been done within the last twenty years, we still stand greatly in need of additional data; and without an extensive array of facts whereon to found our generalisations, the laws that regulate the great cosmical evolution of vitality must remain, in a proportional degree, uncertain and obscure. Nor let it be thought that any devotion to palæontology-to the "stocks and stones" of the sneerers at science-will ever lessen our love for the fresh and beautiful in existing nature. To him who has traced with appreciation the long line of vegetable evolution, the flowers will bloom with new lustre, the woodlands with fresh verdure, and the solemn forest-growths inspire unwonted adoration and awe. To the student of the Past the lowest shell-fish may claim an ancestry that excites new interest; the meanest reptile may retain some curious feature of its gigantic prototypes; and some obscure and solitary quadruped may be the last of a line that once held regal sway in the forests of prehuman epochs. As the existing throws new light on the extinct, so the extinct adds fresh interest to the existing; and thus, to the paleontologist, the study of life becomes not only a more exciting pursuit, but a higher and more ennobling theme.

Besides these intellectual advantages, there are others of a moral kind that spring indirectly from the study of palæontology. There is no other science, perhaps, that tends to engender so much the feeling of community; none that connects more closely the whole of animated nature

into one inseparable system. It shows that life existed before we were; it indicates that life may exist after mankind has ceased to be. Evade and resent as we may the idea of a genetic connection with the lower animals, there is no gainsaying the fact that with them we constitute part and parcel of a great vital plan. They are our life-comrades; they suffer hunger and thirst as we do; they are happy under pleasure, and miserable under pain. Exalted above them by a higher intellect and the gift of moral perception, we are bound to extend to them the humanity of our position; and we err against the Creator's scheme the moment we deal with them otherwise than is indicated by the great law of interdependence which paleontology reveals. And if we are thus led by cosmical considerations to extend mercy to our fellow-creatures, much more are we called upon to exercise it towards our fellow-men. It were a sorry account of our knowledge of the material and vital worlds, and the laws by which they are governed, did we fail to apply it to the material and moral welfare of our race. Vanity and vexation of spirit, did the tree of knowledge ripen no fairer fruit than the pride and boast of knowing! In this way the philosophy of our science ascends above the mere materialities of the earth, and becomes portion of the higher philosophy of the heart and soul.

And now, and in the last place, a word on the spirit in which we should inquire. Geology is at best but a recent science, and its task (as yet but imperfectly performed) is a very wide and difficult one: wide, as embracing a vast field of co-relative science; and difficult, as the objects of research can only be obtained by great labour, are often obscure, and, for the most part, far removed from their producing causes. In this case, though the history of the past be ever attractive, its elimination requires extensive travel and careful research. Guided solely by a desire to

arrive at Truth, our observations must be made with great caution; and even with the utmost care we must often remain contented with mere description-confessing, and not ashamed to confess, that the facts observed are beyond our explanation. To observe without being biased by preconceived theory-to describe accurately so that others may reap the legitimate fruits of our observation-to advance our opinions with humility, where there is so much liability to error-and to deal charitably towards the opinions of others are duties, without the exercise of which no man can be said to be imbued with the right spirit of geology. It has been nobly said, that "to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly," are the chief requirements of moral duty would the same spirit were ever reverently carried into matters of scientific investigation! It was for the want of these qualities that the early course of geology was so much obstructed; it is still for the neglect of their exercise that so much contention prevails, and that humble honest truth is so often over-ridden by bold-faced ignorance and dogmatism.

Guided by this spirit, and exercising it within her own proper field, a glorious future lies before geology—that future being nothing short of a perfect history of our planet. We say, exercising it within her own proper field; for it cannot be denied that many, assuming to themselves the character of geologists, indulge in speculations for which the science is not fairly accountable. "Theories of the Earth," "Vestiges of Creation," "Untieings of the Geological Knot," "Pre-Adamite Sketches," and "Scriptural Reconciliations," are ever crowding thick upon us— enough to destroy the reputation of any science not founded on the sure and ample bases of Truth and Philosophy. The day for a veritable theory of the World is yet far distant; let us content ourselves in the mean time by labour

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