The Guardian has, as promised, put forth a page full of free links to essays and extracts relating to the Origin of Species. Enjoy!
At the very least, it is worth reading
Anyway, here’s an excerpt:
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
It is tragic that a century and a half after this seminal work was published, even with the benefits of all the subsequently accumulated molecular and geological evidence, critical examination, commentary, analysis and repeated validation, there are so many people who choose to deny the validity of (and actively try to abolish the teaching of) evolution.