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In 1837, Hannan Acton of Euston Square, in memory of her late husband SAMUEL Acton, invested one thousand pounds in order to carry out her husband's wish, that “The Royal Institution of Great Britain should be enabled to extend and diffuse useful knowledge,” with the condition that a prize of one hundred guineas should be given every seven years for the best essay “illustrative of the Wisdom and Beneficence of the Almighty, in such department of science as the Committee of the Royal Institution should select,” leaving it in the discretion of the same Committee to withhold the prize if no essay be presented entitling its author, in their opinion, to such a reward.
At the last septennial period the prize was withheld; and hence two prizes were offered for the two best essays presented in 1872. The present essay was one of those selected by the Committee at that time. The other successful essay was written by the Rev. George Henslow.
LECTURER ON PHYSIOLOGY AT THE MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL MEDICAL SCHOOL,
AUTHOR OF THE 'ANATOMY OF THE BLOWFLY' AND
In presenting the following pages to the public, the author wishes it to be understood that he does not expect to convert any to a belief in evolution. He addresses those who accept the doctrine in some form or other as established, although he has endeavoured, as concisely as possible, to present the reader with the reasons for accepting it. Those who remain unconvinced by the elaborate works of Darwin, Spencer, and others will probably not accept the views enunciated in these pages, which, however, it is hoped, will not be unacceptable to many who wish to reconcile the theory of evolution with the highest aims of human thought.
Neither does the writer of the present essay claim a place for it with the more solid works of original research quoted by him. The facts are, with few exceptions, widely known, and will be found in the works referred to. Many of the views are perhaps original, or