Friday, November 23, 2007

Ere Time began, from flaming Chaos hurl'd
Rose the bright spheres, which form the circling world;
Earths from each sun with quick explosions burst,
And second planets issued from the first.
Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,
Surge over surge, involv'd the shoreless earth;
Nurs'd by warm sun-beams in primeval caves
Organic Life began beneath the waves.

First HEAT from chemic dissolution springs,
And gives to matter its eccentric wings:
With strong REPULSION parts the exploding mass,
Melts into lymph, or kindles into gas.
ATTRACTION next, as earth or air subsides,
The ponderous atoms from the light divides,
Approaching parts with quick embrace combines,
Swells into spheres, and lengthens into lines.
Last, as fine goads the gluten-threads excite,
Cords grapple cords, and webs with webs unite;
And quick CONTRACTION with ethereal flame
Lights into life the fibre-woven frame. --
Hence without parent by spontaneous birth
Rise the first specks of animated earth;
From Nature's womb the plant or insect swims,
And buds or breathes, with microscopic limbs.

--Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature* (1802) Canto I.IV lines 227-250

ORGANIC LIFE beneath the shoreless waves
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves;
First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass,
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass;
These, as successive generations bloom,
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume;
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring,
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing.

--Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature* (1802) Canto I.V lines 295-302

From thus meditating on the great similarity of structures of the warm-blooded animals, and at the same time of the great changes they undergo both before and after their nativity; and by considering in how minute a portion of time many of the changes of animals above described have been produced, would it bee too bold to imagine, that in the great length of time, since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the commencement of the history of mankind, would it be too bold to imagine, that all warm-blooded animals have aristen from one living filament, which the Great First Cause endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and association; and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end!

--Erasmus Darwin, Zoomania** (1794)

*Written 57 years before his grandson, Charles, published his Origin of Species.
**Written 65 years before his grandson, Charles, published his Origin of Species.

Was somebody stealing granddaddy's ideas?

It's not stealing if it's family... That's evolution :-)


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