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matter some time since with a learned professor , I illustrated my position thvs : •—You . a ^ ttiit that there is no apparent relationship between a circle and an hyperbola . The one . is a finite curve j the other is an infinite pne , AH parts of the one are alike ; of the other no two parts are alike . The one incloses a space ; the other will not inclose a spaced though produced for ever . Yet opposite as are these curves in all their properties ^ they- may be connected together by a series of intermediate curves , no one of which differs from the adjacient ones in any appreciable degree . Thus , if a cone be cut by a plane at right angles to its axis we get a circle . If , instead of being perfectly at right angles , the plane subtends with the axis an angle
of 89 ° 59 ' , we have an ellipse which no human eye , even when aided-by an accurate pair of Compasses can distinguish from a circle . Decreasing the angle minute by minute the ellipse becomes first perceptibly eccentric , then manifestly so , and by ( and by acquires so immensely elongated a form , as to bear no recognisabje resemblance to a circle . By continuing this process the ellipse passes insensibly ; into a . parabola ; and ultimately , bystill further diminishing the angle , into an hyperbola . Now here we have four different species of curve' —circle , ellipse , parabola , and hyperbola— -each having its peculiar properties , and its separate equation , and the first and last of which are quite opposite in nature , connected together as members of one series , all producible by asingleprocess ofinsensible modification .
Butt the blindness of those who ; think it absurd to suppose that complex organic forms may have arisen by successive modifications out f of simple ones * becomes astonishing when we remember that complex organic forms ate daily being thus produced . A infeediffers firom a seed immeasurably in everyrespect— -in bulk , in structure , in colour , in form > in specific gravity , in chemical composition ; differs so greatly that no visible resemblance of any kind can be , pointed out between them . Yet is the one changed in the course of a fe \ £ r years into the bther~—changed so gradually , that at no inpment can it be said— 'Now the seed ceases to / be , and the tree exists . "What can be more widely contrasted than a newly-born
child and the small , semi ? traiisparent , gelatinous spherule constituting the human ovum ? The infant is so complex in structure that a cyclopaedia is needed to describe its cpnstjtueiit piirtsi . ; ^ e ^ r ^ nal yesicle is so simple that a line wiU co ^ ain Nevertheless a tefr months suflicjes to develop thes one put of 'theother , and that , too , by a series of modifications so small that were the embryo examined at succes-r sive minutes not even a microscope would disclose any sensible changes . That the uneducated and the ill-educated- should think the hypothesis that all races of beings , man inclusive , may in process of time have been evolved -from the simplest monad , a ludicrous one , is not to be wondered at . But 1
for the physiologist , who knowsthat every individuaV being zs so evolved , —who knows further > that in their earliest condition the germs of , all plants and animals whatever are so similar , " that there is no appreciable distinction amongst them which would enable it to be determined whether a particular molecule is the germ of a conferva or of an oak , of a zoophyte or of a man' **—for him to make a difficulty of the matter is inexcusable . Surely , if a single structureless cell may , when subjected to certain influences , become a man in the space of twenty years , there is nothing absj ^ rd in the hypothesis that under certain other influences , a cell may in the course of millions of years give origin to the human race . The two processes are generically the same , and differ only in length and complexity .
We have , indeed , in the part taken by many scientific men in this controversy of " Law versus Miracle , " good illustration of the tenacious vitality of superstitions . Ask one of our leading geologists or physiologists whether he believes in the Mosaic account of the creation , and he will take the question as next to an insult . Either he rejects the narrative entirely , or understands it in some , vague non-natural sense . Yet one part of it he unconsciously adopts ; and that , too , literally . For , whence has he got this notion of '*« special creations , " which he thinks so reasonable , and
fights for so vigorously . Evidently he can trace it back to no other source than this myth which he repudiates . He has not a single fact in nature to quote in proof of it ; nor is he prepared with any chain of abstract reaso ning by which it may be established , Catechise him , and he will be forced to confess that the notion was put into his mind in childhood as part of a story which he now thinks absurd . And why , after rejecting all the rest of this story , he should strenuously defend this last remnant of it as thou gh he had received it on valid authority , he would be' puzzled tp say .
ALBERT SMITH ON MONT BLANC . "When Madame de Stael asked Talleyrand if Napoleon had more esprit than she had , the wit replied , " Madame , I'JEtnpereur a autant d ' esprit que vous—mais votes Stes plus intrSpide / " so I will say of Albert Smith ; there are cleverer men , but none more intrepid ! His audacity is feverish , lie runs a muck against whatever is less rattling and vivacious than himself * . He laughs at High Art , and " can't abide" the manifold delighta of Bigwigs . You would as soon find him at luncheon reading Aristotle ' s Topics as listening to a Beethoven quartetfc at night . Shakspeare is all very well in the closet ( where one doesn't , read him !) but Dumas and Maquet are the boys ! Philosophy slow ; High Art slow ; History fearfully slow ; Politics slow ; Private Theatricals slow ; Royal Institution lectures slow ; Sermons slow!—he is the great Iconoclast of the fast school , smashing with relentless laughter all the solemn shams moving around him , frankly avowing his own want of appreciation of many things which others admire , and inclined to disbelieve that any one does sincerely admire them ; and thus , as the most intrepid of Iconoclasts , ho comes before a public , a large portion of which heartily admires him , another portion of which does not do him justice . I claim for Albert Smith over and above your recognition of his popular qualities , the priceless quality of frankness . He accepts no sham . He
pretends to admire nothing he does not in his soul admire . He pretends to be nothing that he is not . Beethoven bores him , and he says so ; how many are as wearied as he , but dare not confess it P I may object to the Iconoclastic fervour of his avowal , and refuse to accept his taste as iny standard , but I applaud his intrepid sincerity in not pretending to admire that which has no power to please him . O , if men would but recognise this virtue of intrepidity ! If men would but cease lying in traditionary formulas—pretending to admire , pretending to believe , and all in sheer respectability ! But I am not going to suffer my vagabond pen to wander into a discussion : on . Albert's general character , nor on the hypocrisy of our age ; 'I shall have enough to do to set down my impressions of his entertainment at Egyptian Hall , under the titlo of Ascent qf Mont JBlanc . You read in the papers last summer , how the intrepid Albert did make that perilous ascent ; and you have probably read in Blaokwoodhm narrative of the journey . But nothing you have read or heard will convoy a true conception of the variety
and amusement afforded by his Entertainment , whioh a crammed audience seemed to think filled the p leasantest two hours that could : anywhere be spent . The scenery is painted by that accomplished and poetical artist , W . Beverloy , and is not only remarkable for its exquisite artistic effects , but , as I am informed by a gentleman wh , p has made the ascent , for its lifp-life accuracy ; so that the speotator maybe aaid to make the ascent of Mont B ] ane , while cosily seated in Egypt ian Hall , The only scene , I should wish omitted is that pf the French . Jlestaurant , which ia singularly unlike a Restaurant , and has a quantity pf flgures out pf all drawing , and without character . ( I should add , that those figures aro not Boverfey ' s ) , All the rest are < masterpieces ptf soenjo effoofc . The snowy solitudes of those mountainous recesses aro presented with , enchanting vraisemhlanc ? s and the aerial distances font illusion . Very remarkable is the unceasing variety of these ofivpts occurring amidst eoonee so monotonous : here wag
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PAILLASSE . Aloibudes , you bite like a woman , " said the dirty-faced Athenian K ai- . . im P « o « s playfellow . ? 'No , " replied Alcibiades , "Ibito ¦ Jv « -a-a ' In a 8 » wi » ftr spirit of perfect self-appreciation , X declare that « Ar l ^ lght I 01 ? ied liko ¦ ¦ + ' man , at Paillasse , —! cried till my head 5 n » f V / . not t ? i © highest prajse to be given to a drama . The purport or Art is not tp set oambrid in a flutter , and to redden tho noses of H elegant young fejlowp in the stalls but if not the highest praise , tLJ ^ KP * r F bo given > and ia earned by the oxquisite sX 2 ™ M pn « nd Olarisse in their representation pf human suffering . onaKspearo never makes us cry ; G-oethe never makes ua ory : but ; writers ^ meqioore talen t have repeatedly d raw n floods of tears . Tho reason is
simple ; the avenue to tears is through domestic sorrows , and it requires little art to travel on that path . To interest us in the representation ot an herpic nature storm-tost in dark perplexities , moved tp its heights and depths by the incidents of fate , or by the consequences of its own eCTPrs--to raise our sympathy for a Hamlet , a Lear , an Othelloiia 1 inconceivably occult , because the dramatist must make Us , who are on a lower level , raise ourselves to theiieight of hie 1 great argument j but it is an easy task to iarresfc om ? sympathy for a djjjpg child , a bereaved mother , a wronged husbandvor any of the thousand and one domesticities of the drama . That it is not oitener done is the fault of the actor , who spoils , by the
unreality of his acting , the effect of the scene . That fault certainl y is not attributable to Clarisse , who played the arixions , muterdespairing mother , with a minute truthfulness , an overpowering patlibs not within the reach of any actress on our stage . As a whole , her part wanted relief , perhaps ; but the fault does not rightly lie with her so much as with the authors . Very noticeable was her byeplay , so full of pathetic significance ; and never once did she let drop the Mask to show us the Actress underneath- —she was the JPersona of the wife , never relapsing into Mdlle . Clarisse , conscious of boxes , pit , and stalls . And what shall I say of iFre'deric Lemaitre P If last week I had to make severe obfeetions to certain portions of his Don Cdsar ; to-day I have
nothing but unqualified applause to add to mv silent tribute of tears . Frbmfirst to last his acting was free , bold , picturesque ,, elaborate , and pathetic . His soul had passed into the mountebank ' s body . The minute touches were such as only an actor of genjus could conceive , while at the same time the broad outline of the portrait was never lost in the deta || f The look and tone with which he asks his wife whether she blushes for him , now that she is discovered to be a fine Iady ^—the attitude and look , as he leans against the rope , in that fearful second act , when despairing thoughts of suicide hurry across his brain—the natural pride with which he lays out the shawl he has bought for his wife—his agony of mind at her fueht—and the intensely pathetic manner in which , in the last act , he
looks at and- fondles his child , who is now blooming and healthy , and whom he must renounce , that the bloom and health may continue j—these are touches which , belong to the actor , not to the authors of the piece , and they are touches no one will forget . Mtich . as I admire Frederic , I never admired him , with the sanie tmmisgiving fervor as on Friday Tiight . I / have said jiothmg of the piece , Webster haying made it familiar through JBelphegdr . It is 1 a work of little merit beyoiid the scope given ^ o Lemaitre ' s varied powers . It has , indeed some domestic touches that almost amount to / poetry ; but they are worked into a tissue of melpdramatic commpnplacer i | 5 » xt ¦ weekl shall have to tell you of Ruy Bias , said to be Fr ^ d ^ ric's greatest part ; is not that a temptation—^ -the greatest part pf the greatest vingactorJ ¦ .. ' -.
• Oftrpontoc '» Principles qf Phytioloffir . 8 rd od . p . 807 .
Leader (1850-1860), March 20, 1852, page 281, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1927/page/21/