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Time and Tide A Romance of the Moon   By: (1840-1913)

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The Romance of Science.


A Romance of the Moon.

Being Two Lectures Delivered in the Theatre of the London Institution, on the Afternoons of November 19 and 26, 1888.


SIR ROBERT S. BALL, LL.D., F.R.S., Royal Astronomer of Ireland.

Published under the Direction of the Committee of General Literature and Education Appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, Northumberland Avenue, W.C.; 43, Queen Victoria Street, E.C. Brighton: 135, North Street. New York: E. & J. B. Young & Co.


Frontispiece. ]

TO The Members of the London Institution I DEDICATE THIS LITTLE BOOK.


Having been honoured once again with a request that I should lecture before the London Institution, I chose for my subject the Theory of Tidal Evolution. The kind reception which these lectures received has led to their publication in the present volume. I have taken the opportunity to supplement the lectures as actually delivered by the insertion of some additional matter. I am indebted to my friends Mr. Close and Mr. Rambaut for their kindness in reading the proofs.


Observatory , CO. DUBLIN, April 26, 1889.



It is my privilege to address you this afternoon on a subject in which science and poetry are blended in a happy conjunction. If there be a peculiar fascination about the earlier chapters of any branch of history, how great must be the interest which attaches to that most primeval of all terrestrial histories which relates to the actual beginnings of this globe on which we stand.

In our efforts to grope into the dim recesses of this awful past, we want the aid of some steadfast light which shall illumine the dark places without the treachery of the will o' the wisp. In the absence of that steadfast light, vague conjectures as to the beginning of things could never be entitled to any more respect than was due to mere matters of speculation.

Of late, however, the required light has been to some considerable extent forthcoming, and the attempt has been made, with no little success, to elucidate a most interesting and wonderful chapter of an exceedingly remote history. To chronicle this history is the object of the present lectures before this Institution.

First, let us be fully aware of the extraordinary remoteness of that period of which our history treats. To attempt to define that period chronologically would be utterly futile. When we have stated that it is more ancient than almost any other period which we can discuss, we have expressed all that we are really entitled to say. Yet this conveys not a little. It directs us to look back through all the ages of modern human history, through the great days of ancient Greece and Rome, back through the times when Egypt and Assyria were names of renown, through the days when Nineveh and Babylon were mighty and populous cities in the zenith of their glory. Back earlier still to those more ancient nations of which we know hardly anything, and still earlier to the prehistoric man, of whom we know less; back, finally, to the days when man first trod on this planet, untold ages ago. Here is indeed a portentous retrospect from most points of view, but it is only the commencement of that which our subject suggests.

For man is but the final product of the long anterior ages during which the development of life seems to have undergone an exceedingly gradual elevation. Our retrospect now takes its way along the vistas opened up by the geologists. We look through the protracted tertiary ages, when mighty animals, now generally extinct, roamed over the continents... Continue reading book >>

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