The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31
Ladies and Gentlemen—In my lecture on Monday night I pointed out to you that there are three hypotheses which may be entertained, and which have been entertained, respecting the past history of life upon the Globe. According to the first of these hypothesis, life, such as we now know it, has existed from all eternity upon this earth. We tested that hypothesis by the circumstantial evidence, as I called it, which is furnished by the fossil remains contained in the earth's crust, and we found that it was obviously untenable. I then proceeded to consider the second hypothesis, which I termed the Miltonic hypothesis, not because it is of any particular consequence to me whether John Milton seriously entertained it or not, but because it is stated in a clear and unmistakable manner in his great poem. I pointed out to you that the evidence at our command as completely and fully negatives that hypothesis as it did the preceding one. And I confess that I had too much respect for your intelligence to think it necessary to add that that negation was equally strong and equally valid whatever the source front which that hypothesis might be derived, or whatever the authority it might be supported by.