Darwin-L Message Log 2:26 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<2:26>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Tue Oct  5 23:59:33 1993

Date: Wed, 06 Oct 1993 01:06:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: October 6 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1892: ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON, poet laureate of England, dies at 1:35 a.m.
He will be buried in Westminster Abbey.  Tennyson's life had spanned much
of the nineteenth century, and he will be remembered by historical
scientists for producing one of the greatest literary expressions of the
collapse of the static and providential world-view of natural theology
under the weight of the new historical geology, with its emphasis on the
succession of types, extinction, and the "struggle for existence":

   Are God and Nature then at strife,
   That Nature lends such evil dreams?
   So careful of the type she seems,
   So careless of the single life;

   That I, considering everywhere
   Her secret meaning in her deeds,
   And finding that of fifty seeds
   She often brings but one to bear,

   I falter where I firmly trod,
   And falling with my weight of cares
   Upon the great world's altar-stairs
   That slope thro' darkness up to God,

   I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
   And gather dust and chaff, and call
   To what I feel is Lord of all,
   And faintly trust the larger hope.

   'So careful of the type?' but no.
   From scarped cliff and quarried stone
   She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:
   I care for nothing: all shall go.

   'Thou makest thine appeal to me:
   I bring to life, I bring to death:
   The spirit does but mean the breath:
   I know no more.'  And he, shall he,

   Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
   Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
   Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
   Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

   Who trusted God was love indeed
   And love Creation's final law --
   Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
   With ravine, shriek'd against his creed --

   Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,
   Who battled for the True, the Just,
   Be blown about the desert dust,
   Or seal'd within the iron hills?

   No more?  A monster then, a dream,
   A discord.  Dragons of the prime,
   That tare each other in their slime,
   Were mellow music match'd with him.

   (From _In Memoriam_, 1849.)

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