The Decline of the Year
Piety, Feeling, Natural History, Aesthetics, Natural Theology, Biblical Authority, Amusement, Reading, Palaeontology, Botany, Natural Economy, Design, Entomology
Considers some of the 'delightful associations connected even with the approach of Winter', and reflects that the feelings evoked by Autumn are stronger even than those evoked by spring (371). Meditates on the analogy between 'the death-tinge breathed upon created nature at this period of the year' and the 'blight of sin that has passed over ourselves' (371–72). Observes: 'We are no worshippers of nature', and reflects that the 'glory' of nature cannot give the solace for which humanity is groaning. 'But we cannot look upon the handiworks of God without a feeling of deep devotion towards their framer, or pass them by without reading some lessons for our own profit'. The author would not be understood as saying 'that nature without an annotator can be read aright; for all history and all experience are directly at variance with this conclusion, "The world by wisdom knew not God," nor ever could have known him "savingly and to profit," unless he had superadded the testimony of Revelation'. (373) However, those who read the 'scripture of creation according to the counsel of that word which giveth light', find it replete with instruction and delight. Suggests that the knowledge learned from books should be carried into children's 'wanderings': 'Books are but comments upon things, and nearly all the pleasure to be derived from them will be lost, if we detach them from their proper connexion with the visible realities about us'. The study of nature is not at odds with the pursuit of salvation, but the narrator has digressed at length 'to meet the perverse spirit of many who are loud in praise of what is undeservedly called "Natural Theology;" by shewing rather what creation cannot teach, than what it can'. (374) Describes a country walk, with observations on a fossil sea-urchin and a fern, and concludes with a poem of pious reflection on winter.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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