I have read two texts published only 50 years apart, and experienced passing from the science of our time into the science of the previous age, and it’s been exhilarating. I began with “Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation” written by Robert Chambers and published in 1844 (see my review in the "forum"), perhaps the first attempt by a professional science writer to summarize all scientific knowledge for the informed public. Now I have read “Zoonomia” published in 1794, written by Erasmus Darwin, Charles’ grandfather. Between the two, science fell into the order we are familiar with today. Here's a sample from Zoonomia:
Laying the ground for natural selection: “Every individual tree produces innumerable seeds, and every individual fish innumerable spawn, in such inconceivable abundance as would in a short space of time crowds the earth and ocean with inhabitants…. This arguments only shews, that the productions of nature are governed by general laws…” How much more of a clue could young Charles have had!
I heartily recommend reading first “Vestigies of the Natural History of Creation,” edition 11 or later if you can find it, and then “Zoonomia.” A lot of our present mentality got created in the intervening half century. Here's my review of Zoonomia.