Excerpt from Popular Science Monthly, June 1873 (source
Telescopes failed, therefore, to settle the question whether the unresolved nebulae are portions of the primeval matter out of which the existing stars have been formed; they leave us in uncertainty as to whether these nebulae were masses of luminous gas, which in the lapse of ages would pass through the various stages of incandescent liquid (the sun and fixed stars), of scoriæ or gradual formation of a cold and non-luminous surface (the earth and planets), and finally of complete gelation and torpidity (the moon), or whether they exist as a complete and separate system of worlds; telescopes have only widened the problem, and have neither simplified nor solved its difficulties.
The article goes on to extol the virtues of spectroscopy in resolving some of the questions raised. Undoubtedly true but I can't help feeling that while we have gained in knowledge we've lost a deal of poetry in our description of the heavens. I love the idea of star formation being described as "masses of luminous gas, which in the lapse of ages would pass through the various stages of incandescent liquid".