I do not know a treatise in which a survey of the Universe -- using the word in its most comprehensive and only legitimate acceptation -- is taken at all: -- and it may be as well here to mention that by the term "Universe," wherever employed without qualification in this debate, I mean to designate the utmost conceivable expanse of space, with all things, spiritual and material, that can he imagined to exist within the compass of that expanse. In speaking of what is ordinarily implied by the expression, "Universe," I shall take a phrase of limitation -- "the Universe of stars."
But even of treatises on the really limited, although always assumed as the un limited, Universe of stars, I know none in which a survey, even of this limited Universe, is so taken as to warrant deductions from its individuality. The nearest approach to such a work is made in the "Cosmos" of Alexander Von Humboldt. He presents the subject, however, not in its individuality but in its generality. His theme, in its last result, is the law of each portion of the merely physical Universe, as this law is related to the laws of every other portion of this merely physical Universe. His design is simply synoeretical. In a word, he discusses the universality of material relation, and discloses to the eye of Philosophy whatever inferences have hitherto lain hidden behind this universality. But however admirable be the succinctness with which he has treated each particular point of his topic, the mere multiplicity of these points occasions, necessarily, an amount of detail, and thus an involution of idea, which preclude all individuality of impression.
It seems to me that, in aiming at this latter effect, and, through it, at the consequences -- the conclusions -- the suggestions -- the speculations -- or, if nothing better offer itself, the mere guesses which may result from it -- we require something like a mental gyration on the heel. We need so rapid a revolution of all things about the central point of sight that, while the minutiae vanish altogether, even the more conspicuous objects become blended into one. Among the vanishing minutiae, in a survey of this kind, would be all exclusively terrestrial matters. The Earth would be considered in its planetary relations alone. A man, in this view, becomes mankind; mankind a member of the cosmical family of Intelligences.