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Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. With an Introduction by Henry Morley

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. With an Introduction by Henry Morley

CHAMBERS, Robert] Small 8vo. 286, (2) pp. Publisher's blue cloth, black lettered to the spine with matching decoration to the upper board. Some wear to the extremities, else a decent copy. First published in 1844, Chambers drew "upon his scientific reading, his interest in geology, and phrenological philosophy [in proposing] that the universe had not been created in a single act by God, who then controlled all successive creative processes in the universe". (ODNB) The work was published anonymously for fear of the controversy that it inevitably stirred up and was challenged by scientists and churchmen alike, epitomised by the scathing 85 page review of the book published in the Edinburgh Review by the feted geologist Adam Sedgwick. Despite inherent weaknesses in Chambers' hypotheses, the work inspired scientists as august as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, as although Chambers argued that the natural world was governed by laws designed by God he also admitted the evolutionary development of species. The opprobrium heaped upon the author from all sides justified Chambers' decision to publish the work anonymously. Several revised editions appeared between 1844 and 1851, taking on board some of the scientific criticisms, and also his defence, "Explanations: A Sequel", in 1845. This was the first edition to feature illustrations and also a still anonymous autobiographical note. The authorship, although suspected, was not revealed until the twelfth edition appeared in 1884, thirteen years after Chambers' death. Published in Morley's Universal Library, the editor mentions Chambers in the preface but his name doesn't appear on the title page.