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Time and Change   By: (1837-1921)

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TIME AND CHANGE

BY

JOHN BURROUGHS

BOSTON AND NEW YORK

1912

PREFACE

I suspect that in this volume my reader will feel that I have given him a stone when he asked for bread, and his feeling in this respect will need no apology. I fear there is more of the matter of hard science and of scientific speculation in this collection than of spiritual and aesthetic nutriment; but I do hope the volume is not entirely destitute of the latter. If I have not in some degree succeeded in transmuting my rocks into a kind of wholesome literary bread, or, to vary the figure, in turning them into a soil in which some green thing or flower of human interest and emotion may take root and grow, then, indeed, have I come short of the end I had in view.

I am well aware that my own interest in geology far outruns my knowledge, but if I can in some degree kindle that interest in my reader, I shall be putting him on the road to a fuller knowledge than I possess. As with other phases of nature, I have probably loved the rocks more than I have studied them. In my youth I delighted in lingering about and beneath the ledges of my native hills, partly in the spirit of adventure and a boy's love of the wild, and partly with an eye to their curious forms, and the evidences of immense time that looked out from their gray and crumbling fronts. I was in the presence of Geologic Time, and was impressed by the scarred and lichen coated veteran without knowing who or what he was. But he put a spell upon me that has deepened as the years have passed, and now my boyhood ledges are more interesting to me than ever.

If one gains an interest in the history of the earth, he is quite sure to gain an interest in the history of the life on the earth. If the former illustrates the theory of development, so must the latter. The geologist is pretty sure to be an evolutionist. As science turns over the leaves of the great rocky volume, it sees the imprint of animals and plants upon them and it traces their changes and the appearance of new species from age to age. The biologic tree has grown and developed as the geologic soil in which it is rooted has deepened and ripened. I am sure I was an evolutionist in the abstract, or by the quality and complexion of my mind, before I read Darwin, but to become an evolutionist in the concrete, and accept the doctrine of the animal origin of man, has not for me been an easy matter.

The essays on the subject in this volume are the outcome of the stages of brooding and thinking which I have gone through in accepting this doctrine. I am aware that there is much repetition in them, but maybe on that very account they will help my reader to go along with me over the long road we have to travel to reach this conclusion.

July, 1912.

CONTENTS

I. THE LONG ROAD

II. THE DIVINE ABYSS

III. THE SPELL OF THE YOSEMITE

IV. THROUGH THE EYES OF THE GEOLOGIST

V. HOLIDAYS IN HAWAII

VI. THE OLD ICE FLOOD

VII. THE FRIENDLY SOIL

VIII. PRIMAL ENERGIES

IX. SCIENTIFIC FAITH

X. "THE WORM STRIVING TO BE MAN"

XI. THE PHANTOMS BEHIND US

XII. THE HAZARDS OF THE PAST

XIII. THE GOSPEL OF NATURE

TIME AND CHANGE

I

THE LONG ROAD

I

The long road I have in mind is the long road of evolution, the road you and I have traveled in the guise of humbler organisms, from the first unicellular life in the old Cambrian seas to the complex and highly specialized creature that rules supreme in the animal kingdom to day. Surely a long journey, stretching through immeasurable epochs of geologic time, and attended by vicissitudes of which we can form but feeble conceptions.

The majority of readers, I fancy, are not yet ready to admit that they, or any of their forebears, have ever made such a journey. We have all long been taught that our race was started upon its career only a few thousand years ago, started, not amid the warrings of savage elemental nature, but in a pleasant garden with everything needed close at hand... Continue reading book >>




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