|STELLAR EVOLUTION IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT RESEARCH.|
DIRECTOR OF THE YERKES OBSERVATORY, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO.
MANY attempts have been made to sum up the work of the nineteenth century, and to define its principal lines of progress. In estimates of the relative importance of the books published during this period there has been some divergence of view, but regarding one of them no element of doubt seems to have entered the minds of the critics. By unanimous consent Darwin's 'Origin of Species' is accorded a commanding position among the works which have influenced the intellectual life of the century. It would be difficult to overestimate the effect which the doctrine of evolution has wrought. The principle of orderly and harmonious development which it embodies has found application, not only in explaining the wide diversity of organic species, but in unifying the events of history, in elucidating the origin of language, and in throwing light on difficult questions in every department of human knowledge. The idea of evolution may indeed be traced back through the writings of many centuries. The early philosophers, though not possessed of the immense collection of recorded phenomena by which modern men of science may test their theories, were constantly occupied with great problems demanding the widest generalization. In attempting to account for the earth and its inhabitants they made the first steps in the direction which Darwin subsequently pursued.
- Revised from an address delivered on June 5, 1901, before the Minnesota Chapter of the Honorary Scientific Society of Sigma XI, University of Minnesota.