The Good Ship Earth

HERBERT QUICK has written a book felicitously entitled On Board the Good Ship Earth. It is devoted to an intelligent advocacy of conservation, inasmuch as the stores within the ship are limited and can never be replenished because the ship is bound to no port, but like the Flying Dutchman is continually en voyage.

A human life has often been described as a voyage, which indeed it resembles; but the Earth itself has usually been figured as very solid and substantial, though poets mildly acquainted with astronomy have called it pendant. That the Earth is like a ship with stores and passengers abroad, out on an eternal journey for all we know, is a fresh conception.

The figure is carried further, if we are to admit the possibility of use of the latest scientific hypotheses that Earth’s passenger, life, came aboard from without, instead of being spontaneously generated here out of primordial ooze.

The conception of intercommunication across space among stars which that hypothesis involves, furnishes a stupendous new idea, which, if tenable, will be rich in consequences. And why is it not as tenable as some other accepted or seemingly reasonable hypotheses? We know positively that the composition of the stars is identical chemically with that of our Earth. The Universe, variant as its units are, presents variations of a single physical and chemical theme, so to speak.

If such is the fact, the meteors that flash through intersteller space to drop upon this Earth may have served, to use the figure of an eminent scientist, to vaccinate our planet with life. From germs borne in star dust and meteoric particles, all the abundant life found on our globe may have developed.

If life then is a passenger here on the good ship Earth, if it has entered in the lowest form, why may it not, its voyage fulfilled, depart from these decks in a higher form to inhabit a while a better ship, before, having grown again, it flits to still a nobler craft?

The science of the Nineteenth Century linked us with the lower forms of life; the science of the Twentieth may serve to indicate that higher forms of life await us behind the veil. Such discoveries would not be more marvelous than discoveries already made which would have seemed mysterious indeed to former ages of men. Is it not just as likely that the secret of this life of ours is something beneficent and majestic as that it is mean and low?