Progress





The observer of Nature makes a third discovery. Every fresh cycle of

life is characterised by an advance on the preceding cycle; every

stage brings the end nearer. This represents progress, and it is seen

everywhere; when it does not appear, it is because our limited vision

cannot pierce its veil. Minerals slowly develop in the bowels of the

earth, and miners well know when the ore is more or less "ripe,"[45]

and that certain portions, now in a transition stage, will in a

certain number of centuries have become pure gold; experiments[46]

have proved that metals are liable to "fatigue" from excessive

tension; and that, after a rest, they acquire greater power of

resistance than before; magnets "are fed," i.e., they increase their

power of attraction, by exercise; cultivation improves and sometimes

altogether transforms certain species of vegetables; the rapid mental

development of domestic animals by contact with man is a striking

instance of the heights to which progress may attain when it is aided,

whilst the influence of teaching and education on the development of

individuals as well as of races is even more striking.[47]





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