Robert Chambers


Robert Chambers was a Scottish publisher and popular writer trained especially in geology.
His fascinating and revolutionary book Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
(published anonymously in 1844)
was simply an international sensation of its time

Chambers' metaphysics, being not typically British (i.e., deistic) was condemned not only by Agassiz and Sedgwick, but also by evolutionists (including Huxley and Darwin). Chambers' theory had revived partly the Lamarck's teleology. The central idea concerned development and gradualism, especially the analogy with ontogenetic development. In the 'Vestiges', there are also pictures of parallel, unbranched evolutionary lineages.


"The idea, then, which I form of the progress of organic life upon the globe - and the hypothesis is applicable to all similar theatres of vital being - is, that the simplest and most primitive type, under a law to which that of like-production is subordinate, gave birth to the type next above it, that this again produced the next higher, and so on to the very highest, the stages of advance being in all cases very small - namely, from one species only to another; so that the phenomenon has always been of a simple and modest character."

(Robert Chambers: "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation")

"It is most interesting to observe into how small a field the whole of the mysteries of nature thus ultimately resolve themselves. The inorganic has one final comprehensive law, GRAVITATION. The organic, the other great department of mundane things, rests in like manner on one law, and that is - DEVELOPMENT. Nor may even these be after all twain, but only branches of one still more comprehensive law, the expression of that unity which man's wit can scarcely separate from Deity itself."
(Robert Chambers: "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation")

"It being admitted that the system of the Universe is one under the dominion of natural law (natural law being guardedly defined as a mere term for that order which the Deity observes in his operations), it follows that the introduction of species into the world must have been brought about in the manner of law also."

(Robert Chambers: "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation")

"The Eternal One has arranged for everything beforehand, and trusted all to the operation of the laws of his appointment, himself being ever present in all things."

(Robert Chambers: "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation")

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