I now propose to
take,--that I should start from the beginning,--that I should endeavour
to point out what is the existing state of the organic world,--that I
should point out its past condition,--that I should state what is the
precise nature of the undertaking which Mr. Darwin has taken in hand;
that I should endeavour to show you what are the only methods by which
that undertaking can be brought to an issue, and to point out to you
how far the author of the work in question has satisfied those
conditions, how far he has not satisfied them, how far they are
satisfiable by man, and how far they are not satisfiable by man.
To-night, in taking up the first part of this question, I shall
endeavour to put before you a sort of broad notion of our knowledge of
the condition of the living world. There are many ways of doing this.
I might deal with it pictorially and graphically. Following the
example of Humboldt in his "Aspects of Nature", I might endeavour to
point out the infinite variety of organic life in