To deny the existence of this vital principle because we cannot bottle it up in our airless flasks: to reduce it to some unknown correlate of motion because it constantly defies our poor mental grasp; to insist upon its artificial production because elementary substances may be chemically handled in our laboratories—is the same sort of preposterous folly that Newton would have been guilty of, had he attempted to show that there was no such thing as "gravity" in the universe; that it was only some undiscovered correlative of a thermal limit,—some unknown molecular complexity or entanglement in cosmic ether—some spontaneously occurring affinity or antagonism of ethereal molecules in the interplanetary spaces—some "potentiated potentiality" of mere sky-mist,—conditions of which he could have had no experimental knowledge, nor have given the slightest analogical proof. That we are justified in thus partially travestying the technical methods of some of our modern scientists, so called—especially those of the materialistic school—those advocating a purely physical theory of life, we need only quote a sentence or two from Professor Lionel S. Beale, of King's College, London. This eminent physiologist, in his recent work on "The Mystery of Life," says: "Notwithstanding all that has been asserted to the contrary, not one vital action has yet been accounted for by physics and chemistry. The assertion that life is correlated force rests upon assertion alone, and we are just as far from an explanation of vital phenomena by force-hypotheses as we were before the discovery of the doctrine of the correlation of forces." And he further adds that each additional year's labor, in this special field of investigation, "only confirms him more strongly than ever in the opinion that the physical doctrine of life cannot be sustained."
Many able and eminently learned physiologists have been disposed to recognize the presence of pre-existing "germs" in the earth, but not to the extent of accounting for all life-manifestations therein, as the doctrine is conclusively taught in the Bible Genesis. The language of this genesis is too clear and explicit to be misunderstood, in its proper renderings. It especially emphasizes the remarkable and most extraordinary statement, at least for the period in which it was written, that all life comes primordially from the waters and the earth. Note the order in which the command "to bring forth" was issued:—
1. Let the earth bring forth its vegetation.
2. Let the waters bring forth the fishes, the amphibia, the reptiles, the fowl of the air.
3. Let the earth bring forth the beast, the cattle, every living creature, and everything that creepeth upon the earth—each after his kind.
4. Let us make man in our own image.
And this is the precise order in which the Scientific genesis proceeds, with all the lithographic pages of nature turned back for its inspection. Before vegetation there could have been no animal life upon the globe. This fact is most conclusively proved, not only by geographic and paleontologic records, but by legitimate induction. From the highly crystalline, and, for the most part, non-fossiliferous era, far back in the Laurentian period, down, in the order of time, to the modern or post-tertiary period, there is one continuous history of life-manifestations, written upon the stratified rocks, in the order of the Bible Genesis. Was this mere guess and fancy on the part of the writer, even to the seemingly improbable element wherein is assigned the origin of the "fowl of the air?" Bear in mind that nothing was known of geological distribution at the time this most remarkable genesis was written. Had there been, it is certain that the careful and painstaking Hesiod, who suffered no important fact of the Cosmos to escape him, would have given us some hint of it in his "Works and Days;" for Greece was, even in his early day, largely the recipient of Phoenician learning and literature, as she was certainly Phoenicia's foster-child in letters.
But the more conclusive proofs of the correctness of the order of creation, as given in the Bible Genesis, are to be found in the accurate observations of modern geological science. Before there could have appeared in the primeval oceans any living organism, even the lowest primordial forms of crustacea, there must have been marine vegetation—that springing from inorganic matter and laying the foundation of organic life. Plants originate in, and are solely nourished by, inorganic substances; or, to speak more definitely, they originate from primordial germs—the first elementary principles of life—whenever inorganic conditions favor, and, assimilating air, water, and other inorganic materials, convert them into organic substances, or such as answer to the conditions of organic life. In doing this, they take up and decompose carbonic acid, retain the carbon, and give off oxygen—a vital process not known to occur in the case of animal life. That their primordial germs, or vital units, are in the earth, as the Bible Genesis declares, is conclusively shown by the experimental processes first successfully entered upon by the AbbA(C) Spallanzani, Charles Bonnet, and others, and more recently renewed and advocated by M. Pasteur, and his co-laborers in super-heated flask experimentation, as well as logically established by inductive methods.
Nihil ex nihilo is conceded to be as conclusive an induction as omne vivum ex vivo. That is, as without some chemical unit—some primary least considered as a whole—there can be no chemical action, so without some vital unit, in the same primary sense, there can be no vital manifestation. The doctrine of "chemical units" is universally conceded, and that of "morphological units" almost as universally claimed. What greater incongruity is there, then, in assuming the presence between the two of a physiological or vital unit?  At all events, it is as impossible to demonstrate the non-existence of the one unit as the other. And so long as legitimate induction supports the doctrine of the Bible Genesis, it is useless to indulge in a contrary assumption which is wholly without verification or proof.
But to return to land vegetation. This appeared and flourished throughout the Devonian period, if not anterior to it, and long before the appearance of batrachian reptiles and other low air-breathing forms of life. In fact, there could have been no life-breathing atmosphere until the earlier land vegetation had whipped out its more destructive elements, and paved the way, in necessary conditions, for the appearance of air-breathing animals. Hence the command for the earth to bring forth both marine and land vegetation—the vegetation of the earth—before there was any similar command respecting either marine or land forms of organic life. But by what logical method was this exact order inferred in the Bible Genesis? Neither the Jews, nor their earlier Hebrew ancestors, nor the Phoenicians before or after them, were in any sense of the word metaphysicians; nor did their language admit of those nicer distinctions and speculative conclusions which would have enabled any writer using it, thousands of years ago, to draw the commanding induction contained in this remarkable genesis. There is nothing in the incomparable methods of M. Comte, or the metaphysical spirit of Herbert Spencer, in his most daring speculations, which gives the world a more legitimate and conclusive induction than is contained in this simple statement of the order of creation. That it should have been a mere piece of guess-work on the part of Moses, or any other writer of his time,—covering, as it does, so many particularities of statement, all according with the exact observations of geologic science, and supported by paleontologic records,—requires quite as much credulity of judgment as to accept it for divinely inspired truth. A disciple of M. Comte might object to this conclusion as susceptible of two interpretations, the one a legitimate induction, and the other not. But the mind of the profounder reasoner would accept the interpretation which is supported by the higher reason, and validated by the greater number of conclusively-established facts. In the case of a strongly intuitive mind, it might be possible to guess the exact order of three or four apparently disconnected events, but to arbitrarily associate with them other and more distinctively subordinate occurrences, like the appearance or disappearance of whole groups and classes of plants and animals, the supposition that guess-work, and not positive information, governed in the formation of a judgment, is at once rejected because of its utter incredibility.
It is not our purpose, however, either to affirm or dis-affirm the inspirational claims of the Bible Genesis. We simply take its language as we find it, stript of its Masoretic renderings and irrational interpretations, and unhesitatingly aver that the three Hebrew words, translated in our common version—"whose seed is in itself upon the earth" —contains, when properly rendered, the key that unlocks the whole "mystery of life," or, as Dr. Gull emphasizes it, "the grand questio vexata of the day." It expressly declares that "the primordial germs of all plant-life (and, inferentially of all life) are in themselves (i.e. each after its kind) upon the earth," and we have only to supplement this physiological statement with the "necessary incidence of conditions," as formulated by the physicists, to explain every phenomenal fact of life hitherto occurring upon our globe.
Take all the hints as to the spontaneous origin of life to be met with in Aristotle; all those subsequently repeated by Lucretius and Ovid; all the experiments of the renowned AbbA(C) Spallanzani—all the alleged "fantastic assumptions" of M. Bonnet—all the theories of "panspermism," by whomsoever advocated—all the fortuitous aggregations of "molecules organiques," as put forth by the French school of materialists—all the primordia viventium of the gifted Harvey—all the "molecular machinery" and "undiscovered correlates of motion" formulated by Herbert Spencer and Professor Bastian—in fine, all the more brilliant theories of life ever spun from the recesses of the human brain,—and we shall find that they all fit into the three simple Hebrew words to be found in the Bible Genesis, and all are explained by them. We say all, with one exception only—that of man. And how inconceivably grand and majestic this exception! The crowning work of creation was MAN. He came from no "muddy vesture of decay;" no mere life-creating fiat spoke him into existence. He who was to have "dominion over all the earth"—who was to be created only a little lower than the angels—"in the image of God created He him." And, breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, he became a living soul!
Here is the "bridge" over which the "evolutionist" may pass, if he will, without wearing either the dunce's cap or the ass's ears. It spans the chasm between the anthropoid ape and man as no other bridge can span it. Across this bridge is flung the living garment of God, and how grandly, yet reverently and humbly, did the profound Newton cross it! Oh, ye defiant iconoclasts of sublime faith in the "old doctrines;" ye who talk so flippantly of the "potentialities of life in a nebula;" who sit on the awe-inspiring Matterhorn, at high noon, and muse in sadness over "the primordial formless fog," teeming with all the mighty possibilities of myriads of sun-systems like our own; and, musing, sneer, if you can, at the idea of a "specific creation" in the beginning—of an Infinite Intelligence that directs and superintends all! Because you cannot annihilate matter, nor conceive of its annihilation in the infinitessimal compass of your brain, is that any reason why Infinite power and intelligence may not have spoken it into existence at His sovereign and commanding will? If man would presumptuously press towards the threshold of the Infinite, let him do it reverently, and with humility of spirit, and not as one "that vaunteth himself of strength," or "multiplieth words without knowledge."
But let us examine the Bible Genesis a little further in this direction. It is said in the second verse of the first chapter that "the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," that is, upon the face of the abyss—the chaotic mass at creation—the earth "without form and void."
What is here meant by "the spirit of God," is that life-giving breath or power of God which operates (continuously operates) to impart life to inanimate nature. From the connection in which it here stands it means this, as in other connections it means the power which operates (continuously operates) to produce whatever is noble and good (God-like) in man. There is no implication in the text that this life-giving principle or power was suspended in the act of creation. On the contrary, there is abundant evidence in nature to show that it is just as operative now as it was in the beginning. One of the definitions given by Professor Gibbs of this spirit is, "that which operates throughout inanimate nature," not that which once operated, and then forever ceased its operations. And Professor Gibbs no doubt meant by "nature," in this connection, not only all the physical phenomena she presents, but the aggregate or sum total of all her phenomena, whether active or passive, animate or inanimate, embracing the world of matter or the world of mind. "All are but parts of one stupendous whole,"—not a part nature, and a part not nature.
Again, in the eleventh verse, it is distinctly declared that the ZRA. the "germinal principle of life," is in the earth, producing each living thing, at least in the vegetable world, after its kind, that is, after its own class, order, genera, species. Hence, the three distinct and separate commands given to the earth, or to the earth and its waters, "to bring forth." No such command would have been given to the earth, had it not first received its baptism of life from God—in other words, derived the animating principle of life from the source of all Life.
And hence, also, the two separate averments in the second chapter of Genesis, both entirely meaningless apart from the construction we here give it, that "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow" the vegetation of the earth, and "out of the ground" produced he (or caused to be produced) every beast of the field, etc.,—all of which has a definite and comprehensive significance in this one sense only, that the animating principle of life is in the earth, as the language of this most remarkable genesis implies. And this seems to have been the patristic idea, namely, that law and regularity, not arbitrary intervention, nor any specific act of creation, were what governed in the case of both vegetal and animal life.
St. Augustine says: "In prima institutione naturA non quseritur miraculum, sed quid natura rerum habeat." And it is certain that both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Basil held the same view. And they further held that the animating principle of life once implanted in nature, held good for all time. But we are not seeking for early and mediA val authority. What we propose to show is, that nature is still implicitly obeying just such a law as that implied in the command given her "to bring forth," however doubtful may be the authority on which it rests, in the opinion of our modern scientists.
And how completely does this genesis of life take man out of the definitional formula embracing the "beasts of the earth." From the lowest vertebrate, in Mr. Darwin's plexus, to the highest quadrumane (his nearest allied type to man), covering almost an infinite variety of distinct living forms, the distance to be traversed, in order to reach man, is hardly more than one-third the length of the still unlinked and uncompleted chain. In the average capacity of the monkey's brain-chamber, to say nothing of his other characteristic differences, the distance is not half traversed. As a "beast of the earth," he remains allied to his own type, and nothing higher. Both Darwin's vertebral plexus, and Herbert Spencer's "line of individuation," must begin with the lancelet and its disputed head, and end in the Catarrhine or Old World monkey. No a priori induction will ever extend this line or plexus to man. The developmental chain, if indeed there be one, has no congenital link that will either drag man down to the "beast of the earth," or lift the latter up to the transcendent plane of humanity. Each must remain specifically in his own type, whatever may be their vertical tendencies, upwards or downwards. And this word "type" implies a fundamental ground-plan an archetype an original conception of what each should unconditionally be, and what plane each should as unconditionally occupy. Man's place in nature can never be changed or modified by materialistic speculations. Whatever theories the materialists may spin into the unsubstantial warp and woof of their scientific formulA respecting life, will never stand before the tenacious and stubborn physiological facts which almost any thoroughly-informed and well-read scholar of nature may readily present against them.
Even the wild Indian of our prairies has a more rational conception of life and its accountabilities, than some of these learned professors whose theoretical conclusions we find it imperative to handle. With all his rude, rough nature, hanging like so many mental clogs about him, this unlettered savage recognizes the fact that the earth is the genetrix omnium viventium, or the living mother on whose bosom he shall rest when his spirit has passed to the happy hunting-fields beyond. Unlettered as he is, and unread in any genesis of life, he fails not to perceive that the earth is forever teeming with the germinal principles of life, and that when his prairie fires have invaded the forests in which he had previously hunted the deer, other and different forest growths are constantly making their appearance, without any apparent intervention of seeds, but not without the supervisional care and direction of the Great Spirit,—while many of his hardier prairie grasses have disappeared, only to give place to the more nutritious gramma coveted by his favorite game.
And here we may as well anticipate an objection which will be raised against the presence of this animating principle of life in the earth, as to meet and answer it further on in the argument. But as the objection to which we refer is one of those dragon's teeth we do not care to leave behind us, we will meet it at the very threshold of the controversy. It will probably be admitted that the vegetation of the earth may appear in the way and manner indicated in the biblical genesis, the same as infusorial forms appear in super-heated and hermetically-sealed flasks. But how about the preA"xisting germs or vital units of the mastodon, the megatherium, and other gigantic mammiferous quadrupeds of the Eocene period? From what experimental flasks, in the great laboratory of nature, did they first make their appearance? The objection is a legitimate one, and we will answer it.
But first, let us do so from the materialist's own stand-point. Time, they all agree, is practically infinite—past time, as well as future; while matter is susceptible of an infinite number of diverse movements, changes, modifications, combinations, etc., chemically as well as molecularly considered. This, they claim, is not a mere hypothetical judgment, but a mathematically demonstrable proposition. Grant it for the sake of the argument, and then see if the mastodon does not promptly emerge from some one of their "experimental flasks," as they choose to put it.
For if the number of these diverse movements, changes, modifications, etc., of matter, have been infinite, in its progress from the lowest statical to the highest dynamical manifestation, then every possible, as well as conceivable, form of matter, must have existed somewhere, and at some time, in nature, even to its highest and most potentially endowed plasmic form in which there is life. And if this be true, and the materialists will not deny but rather affirm it, then the inter-uterine conditions of matter, in the case of all animals (the mastodon included), as well as the inter-cellular conditions in the case of all plant-life, must have existed, with their necessary environments, somewhere and at some time, in the all-hutched laboratory of nature. Hence, in the infinite number of these changes and combinations—in the countless collocations of molecules and chemically changed conditions of matter, we have the possibilities of all terrestrial life-manifestations, as we have, in the infinite number of cosmical changes, the possibilities of all planetary, cometary, and asteroidal manifestations. For whenever these vital changes occur, the life-manifestations dependent thereon, must as inevitably follow as that infinitely diffused matter should be aggregated by gravity, or by what Humboldt calls, in his "Cosmos," the "world-arranging Intelligence" of the universe.
Who shall say, then, that in that immensely remote and long-protracted era—the Eocene period—in which the gigantic elephantoids first made their appearance, there did not exist somewhere, in some one of nature's more cunning and prolific recesses, the exact plasmic conditions necessary for the appearance of the mastodon? If they existed anywhere (which is concessively possible), with the necessary environment (also concessively possible), then the mastodon could no more help wallowing out of his essential plasma than the earth can help responding to its axial motion. All things are framed in the prodigality of nature, and she never commits an abortion upon herself. If both the conditions and necessary environment were at any time present, as they must have been on the materialistic theory, the mastodon is just as easily accounted for as the first fungus, or the first fungus-spore. 
All physicists, as well as physiologists, agree that individual species of both plants and animals have disappeared from the earth for the want of the "necessary conditions" under which they once lived and flourished. What greater fallacy is there, then, in the assumption that they originally appeared from the presence of these identical conditions, whatever they may have been, and whenever they may have occurred? We put this question not simply because the Bible Genesis asserts that "out of the ground made the Lord God to grow" every plant of the field "before it was in the earth," as well as every herb of the field "before it grew;" nor because it declares that their primordial germs are in the earth; nor because it speaks of the earth as containing within itself the "animating principle of life." But we put it on the irrefragable logic of the materialist's own premises and conclusions. They may use other and different physiological terms from what we should care to employ, but their "correlates of motion," their "molecular force," their "highly differentiated life-stuff," etc., may possibly mean nothing more than what we mean by "vital units," "vital forces," "vital conditions," etc. Their preference for the terms they employ, over essential "qualities" or "properties" of matter, is entirely due to the obvious invalidity of their conclusions, except as their physical theory of life may help them out of an unpleasant dilemma. "Force" is a more convenient term on which to allege the de novo origin of life—its spontaneous manifestation in their experimental flasks—than any vital principle primarily inhering in matter, and manifesting itself whenever conditions favor. It is to validate their own reasoning that they construct their fallacious force-premises, from which to draw their materialistic inductions. In other words, theirs is the fallacy of non causa pro causa, or that vicious process of reasoning which alleges some other than the real cause of vital manifestation, and fastens induction where none is legitimately inferable.
Burdach, Buffon, Pouchet, Needham, and other professed vitalists, agree that in all life-manifestations there must be some preA"xisting vital force or principle, without which no living thing, whether plant or animal, can come into existence. M. Pouchet says: "I have always thought that organized beings were animated by forces which are in no way reducible to physical or chemical forces." The AbbA(C) Needham is satisfied to formulate a "force vA(C)getative," so far as plant-life is concerned; Buffon invariably falls back on vital force or energy; and Burdach on a "force plastique," which is essentially inseparable from nature in her vital manifestations. According to the latter, the whole universe is an "organisme absolu" constantly endowed with life, and giving expression to it in all conceivable directions. And all that these vitalists need, to give a full interpretation to their facts of observation, is to supplement their theories with the Bible declaration that the animating principle of life is in the earth, from which all living things make their appearance, each distinctively after its own kind, whenever environing conditions favor. For they severally recognize these "necessary conditions" as inseparable from all vital manifestation.
An effort has been made to show that Goethe was the great inspired prophet of the doctrine of "Evolution," as a ceaselessly progressive transformation of one thing into another, in the metamorphoses of plants and animals; and Haeckel quotes this passage from him as entirely conclusive of this point: "Thus much we should have gained (towards solving the problem of life) that all the more perfect organic beings, among which we include fishes, amphibians, birds, mammals (and at the head of the latter, man), to be formed according to an archetype,  which merely fluctuates more or less in its ever persistent parts, and moreover, day by day, completes and transforms itself by means of reproduction." But this attempt to give a poetic glorification to Haeckelism in Goethe's speculations, and bring his commanding name into support of the evolution theory of development, will prove utterly futile in the light of his "archetype," and the persistency with which he concedes that nature adheres to perfected forms.
Goethe accepts the doctrine of vis centripeta, beyond the influence of which no developmental progress can be made in the way of diversifying or variegating ideal types. In other words, he virtually fixes limits to variability, from the outermost circumference of which reversion must inevitably take place. His whole doctrine may be summed up generally, if not specially, in these words: "The animal is fashioned by circumstances to circumstances," as the eagle to the air and mountain top, the mole to the loose soil in which it burrows, the seal to the water in which he frolics, and the bat to the cave, the twilight, and the night air. We should rather say that the animal is fashioned, after the Great Architect's pattern, to circumstances, and is only varied by circumstances, and that within the narrowest limits of variability. For the most that Goethe means by his "archetype" is an ideal pattern, after which, or on which, a natural group of plants or animals has been fashioned within the limits of possible variability. But by whose mind, or rather within whose mind, was this ideal pattern—this essential archetype—fashioned? Whence this ideal type, this natural group, this Archeus pervading all nature and fashioning all organic matter? Not from the mind of Goethe certainly, nor from that of Aristotle or Lucretius, but from the one supreme mind of the universe, in which the groups of all living things were originally fashioned in the archetypal world—that world "which," according to Bolingbroke, "contains intelligibly all that is contained sensibly in our world."
This archetypal doctrine of Goethe, coupled, as he couples it, with the influences of environment, or necessary external conditions, with typical modifications only, while it entirely harmonizes with the Bible genesis of types (everything modeled after its kind), is far from aiding, or in any way abetting, the materialistic hypothesis of Haeckel, unless we make nature at once the creator and modifier of her own archetype. And even then the variability of species remains unaccounted for, except as we attribute to nature a purpose to modify persistent forms under a law that is immutable even in its variability. For the assumption of an archetype carries with it an archetypal plan and purpose, with a degree of intelligence, either in or above nature, capable at once of conceiving the type and determining the limits of its variability. The question is not, therefore, as many may seem to think, whether species originate by miracle or by law, but whether laws and causes can exist independently of any predetermining will or agency in the universe.
Our language, and that of all civilized peoples on the globe, must be thoroughly recast, not only in its philological and etymological character, but in its ideologic, etiologic, and other significations, before we can successfully fall back on an antecedent cause without an effect, or an effect without an antecedent cause. Besides, the human mind would have to undergo as complete a subversion of structure as language itself, before any such attempt at recasting it, on the basis of modern materialistic ideas, could possibly prove successful. And then, at least one-third of our language would have to disappear in this iconoclastic reform. For instance, take any well-tabulated synopsis of our categories and their relations, and they would nearly all have to be recast or entirely abandoned. Time, space, matter, motion, intellect, abstract ideas, volitions, affections, etc., with their several correlates or co-relations, would all have to undergo a thorough recasting process. The personal, intersocial, sympathetic, moral, and religious relations and obligations, would have to be summarily set aside for future revision, if not for sweeping rejection. All our ideas of life, materiality, spirituality, animality, vegetability, sensibility, etc., would have to fall into greater or less desuetude, the language disappearing with the ideas. All the words expressing our ideas of a superhuman agency, of God, angels, heaven, revelation, religious doctrines, sentiments, acts of worship, piety, human accountability to divine institutions, rites, ceremonies, etc.,—to say nothing of maleficent spirits, mythological and other fabulous divinities, entering so largely into the spirit and machinery of all our best poetry—would utterly disappear from our language. All our churches, minsters, chapels, tabernacles, cathedrals, and temples erected to the "living God," embracing the finest and most majestic architecture of the world, would have to succumb to the iconoclastic zeal of these materialistic reformers. The ten categories of Aristotle would disappear in the one category of Haeckel, or possibly the two categories of Bastian—Matter and Motion! Philologically speaking, we should all be at sea, drifting, like a set of deaf-mutes, on a wide and inaudible ocean—all inarticulate, tongue-tied, voiceless—with only the screeching of the sea-mew, or some other sepulchral bird of the night, to greet us as in wide-mouthed derision of our speechlessness and folly.
But let us see how the incontestible facts of nature, and the truths of science, fit into the three simple Hebrew words referring to "germs," or the germinal principle of life, instead of the natural "seeds" of plants or trees. We have given what we claim to be the true rendering of these words. To show how perfectly they harmonize with all the phenomenal manifestations of life in nature, we hurriedly pass to our third chapter.
Alternations of Forest Growths.
No fact has more profoundly puzzled the vegetable physiologist than the alternations of forest growths which are everywhere occurring without the apparent interposition of natural seeds, and which have been considered as wholly inexplicable except as one unsatisfactory theory after another has been suggested to account for the wide dissemination and distribution of their seeds. We have had any number of these theories, more or less ingeniously constructed, but it is safe to say that none of them satisfactorily accounts for more than a very limited number of the phenomena presented. It is only within a comparatively recent period that these alternations of timber growth have attracted the attention of scientific men; consequently little more than crude suggestions and ill-digested facts are at the command of the general reader and writer. And yet the facts themselves, such as they are, would fill a dozen volumes of the size of Dr. Hough's recent "Report upon American Forestry." We can only give a few of the more important facts we have gathered, and many of these are so deficient in necessary detail that their value is greatly lessened for scientific uses. This is especially true of nearly all those noticed and collated by Dr. Hough, in his report to the United States Commissioner of Agriculture, made in 1877, in which the alternations in question are referred to at length, but no new suggestions presented, nor any very important new facts given.
If our construction of the Bible genesis be the correct one, it will, we think, be unhesitatingly admitted that all the facts collected and collated by Dr. Hough, together with others more carefully noticed by our ablest writers on vegetable physiology, not only harmonize with this ancient Hebrew text, but so completely fit into it, both in its implications and explications, that adverse criticism will be awed into silence rather than provoked into any new controversy on the subject. This remarkable genesis declares that the germs of all living things are in themselves upon the earth—"upon the face of all the earth." It is true that this declaration, as contained in the 11th verse of the first chapter of Genesis, is textually limited to the vegetation of the earth; but the further emphatic statement that "the animating principle of life" is in the earth, coupled with the more substantive fact that God commanded the waters and the earth to bring forth abundantly of every living creature, with the single exception of man, conclusively extends the language of the 11th verse to whatever vegetable and animal life the earth was specifically directed to "bring forth." It is our purpose to consider, in this connection, not only the various facts noticed and theories suggested by our ablest writers and thinkers on the subject of seed-distribution, but to ascertain, as far as possible, to what extent their several facts and theories harmonize with natural phenomena, and at the same time determine what disposition should be made of them in the light of this new genesis, herein for the first time disclosed.
Professor George P. Marsh, in his work on "Man and Nature," in which he treats largely of forestry in Europe, says that "when a forest old enough to have witnessed the mysteries of the Druids is felled, trees of other species spring up in its place; and when they, in their turn, fall before the axe, sometimes even as soon as they have spread their protecting shade over the surface, the germs which their predecessors had shed, perhaps centuries before, sprout up, and in due time, if not choked by other trees belonging to a later stage in the order of natural succession, restore again the original wood. In these cases, the seeds of the new crop may have been brought by the wind, by birds, by quadrupeds, or by other causes; but, in many instances, this explanation is not probable." It is manifest that Professor Marsh uses the word "germs," in this connection, in the sense of seeds only; for no seed-bearing trees "shed" any other germs than the natural seeds they bear. And while he admits that, in many instances, the generally accepted theory concerning the dissemination of seeds is not a probable one, he still clings to the exploded notion that vegetable physiology furnishes a record of "numerous instances where seeds have grown after lying dormant for ages in the earth." He further says, in the same connection, that "their vitality seems almost imperishable while they remain in the situations in which nature deposits them;" although he is reluctant to accept the accounts of "the growth of seeds which had lain for ages in the ashy dryness of the Egyptian catacombs," believing that they should be received with great caution, if not rejected altogether. But why he should scruple about receiving these speculative accounts of ancient Egyptian cereals, which are sometimes hawked about the country for two and three dollars a seed, and, in the same breath, accept the absurder theory that seeds may lie dormant for ages in soils where the hardest and most enduring woods will utterly perish and disappear in a few brief years, is wholly inexplicable to us, except as an hypothesis to force a conclusion, or to account for the otherwise unaccountable alternations of forest growths.
But the idea that nature has any cunning devices by which she may hide seeds away where they will remain "almost imperishable" for ages, is not entirely new with Professor Marsh, nor is it any suggestion that would be protected by copyright. In finding the winds, birds, quadrupeds, and other assumed agencies of distribution improbable, he seeks, with Dr. Dwight, for "the seeds of an ancient vegetation," and, finding none by actual observation, concludes that nature has some occult, and thoroughly surreptitious, method of hiding them away, even in soils below the last glacial drift, where no microscope can possibly reach them. As the accounts of seeds taken from the mummy-cases of Egypt may answer the purposes of those seeking to palm off some new cereal as a nine-days wonder on the ignorant, so these speculations about the indestructibility of seeds, when hidden away by nature, may answer a like purpose in imposing upon the over-credulous; but they will hardly be accepted by the intelligent, much less the scientific, in the light of all the facts herein given. The simple truth is that all seeds are speedily perishable by out-door exposure. We hardly know a single seed that will survive beyond the second year when subjected to such exposure. If they do not germinate the first year, their vitality is utterly gone the second year, as hopelessly so as if they had been cast into the fire and consumed to ashes.
But there is a large class of vegetable phenomena which wholly excludes the idea of this wonderful vitality of seeds. It is well known that soil brought up from deep wells and other excavations, often produces plants entirely unlike the prevailing local flora. This soil has been brought up, in many instances, from beneath the last glacial drift, where it must have remained for not less than a quarter of a million years at the lowest calculation, and may have remained for millions of years, if not longer; and yet the same singular phenomenon is presented. Exposed to the sun's rays, and the fructifying influences of showers and dews, the soil burgeons forth into an independent flora, and such as are nowhere to be found in the surrounding locality. The writer, in digging a well in Waukesha, Wis.,—a place now famous for the curative properties of its waters—in 1847, struck soil at a depth of about thirty-five feet—that which was evidently ante-glacial. The place is some twenty miles back from Milwaukee, and the whole section, far into the interior of the state from Lake Michigan, is one of drift, covering the primeval soil at various depths, from a few feet up to a hundred or more; and the imbedded soil must have remained in its place for untold ages. And yet, it was no sooner brought to the surface than it produced several small plants that were wholly unlike the prevailing local flora; although, unfortunately, they did not sufficiently mature to enable us to determine their genera and species. Considerable portions of this soil were dried and subjected by us, and the late Dr. John A. Savage, then president of Carroll College, to microscopic examination, but without discovering the slightest trace of any seed, or anything resembling seed, in the several portions carefully examined. The soil, however, contained, in its imbedded place, several large Norway spruce logs, in a more or less perfect state of preservation. But there were no cones, nor chits to cones, to be found in it, although the most rigid examination was made at the time to discover them. That the seeds of these delicate little plants should have survived the wreck of this ancient Norwegian forest, or the drift from one, and burst forth into newness of life after hundreds of thousands, not to say millions of years, is decidedly too large a draft upon our credulity to be honored "without sight." But we will return to the alternations of forest growths.
It is within a comparatively recent period that extensive areas of hemlock, in Greene and Ulster Counties, N.Y., were cut off to supply the neighboring tanneries with bark. These clearings were no sooner made than oak, chestnut, birch, and other trees of deciduous foliage, sprang up and entirely usurped the place of the hemlock; for the reason, no doubt, that the soil had become chemically unbalanced for the growth of the latter, while its condition was entirely favorable for the development of the "germs" (not the natural seed) of the former. These changes in timber growths have been widely noticed in all parts of this country, as well as in Europe, but the universal supposition has been that they came from the natural seeds of their respective localities, those either scattered by the winds, or borne thither by the birds, by quadrupeds, or by some other natural agency. No one has suggested the theory of "primordial germs" or "vital units," or come any nearer to it than Dr. Dwight did in suggesting "the seeds of an ancient vegetation." The great truth of the Bible genesis has been wholly overlooked by reason of a faulty translation in the first instance, as taken from the Masoretic renderings of the sixth century, and implicitly followed since.
In 1845, a violent tornado swept a wide strip of forest in Northern New York, from the more thickly settled portions of Jefferson County to Lake Champlain. The timber that succumbed to the force of the tornado, and growing at various points along its track, was mainly beech, maple, birch, ash, hemlock, spruce, etc.; but it was rarely replaced, at any point, by the same timber, in the growths that almost immediately followed. The trees that are now growing along the track of the tornado are principally poplar, cherry, birch, and a little beech and ironwood: no ash, maple, spruce, or hemlock, except here and there, at considerable intervals, a tree or two which may have been replaced by natural seed. The important fact noticeable, in this connection, is that the aggressive timber—that replacing the old—entirely usurped the place of the evergreen growths, supplanting them with those that were wholly deciduous. Besides, it does not appear that the poplar, the cherry, and the ironwood, which were altogether aggressive, previously grew near enough to the track of the tornado to have possibly supplied the seed necessary for their appearance and growth.
The fact was specially noticeable at the time, and has been widely communicated since, that the white oak timber cut off at Valley Forge for fuel and other army purposes in the American camp, in the winter of 1777-78, was succeeded by black oak, hickory, chestnut, etc.—the white oak entirely disappearing, although by far the most favorably situated for propagation by seed. But the alternations of forest growths had attracted too little attention at that time to render the meagre facts given of any special value to scientific men. If the usurping timber had grown in the immediate neighborhood (a fact not stated), it might have come from natural seeds, and not from primordial germs under "favoring conditions."
In the Ohio Agricultural Report of 1872, an account is given of a storm-track, in that state, which swept for a considerable distance, and was violent enough to bear down all the timber before it. It is stated that the path of this tornado (which must have occurred many years ago) "had grown up with black-walnut, another and different growth from that prostrated by the force of the storm." In this instance, there were no neighboring trees, except perhaps at distant intervals, from which the nuts of the black-walnut could have been derived, unless they had been promiscuously strewn by the tornado along its entire track. But it is, unfortunately, not stated that the tornado occurred at that opportune season of the year when the nuts were properly matured for planting.
In many parts of the United States, particularly in the South and West, the paths of local tornadoes—those sweeping the native forests long before the axe of civilization invaded them—may still be traced by the alternations of timber growths, extending for long distances, and through forests where there were no neighboring trees from which it was possible that their seeds could have been derived. One of these tornadoes the writer traced many years ago (as early as 1837) in South Alabama, and he is satisfied, both from observation and reading, that the instances are rare, if not altogether exceptional, where the clean path of a tornado, through any of our primitive forests, has been succeeded by the same growth of timber as that borne down by the winds. Where the path of this ancient tornado of Alabama swept through a pine forest, a clean growth of oak was buttressed on either side by pine; and vice versa, where it swept an oak forest. And it is certain that the tornado, whenever it may have occurred, could have exhibited no such discriminating freak as alternately to distribute acorns in pine growths, and pine cones in oak growths, either to make good a scientific theory or balk an unscientific one.
Professor Agassiz, in passing through a dense young spruce forest some years ago, on the south shore of Lake Superior, noticed that the ground was thickly strewn with fallen birch trunks, showing that their place had been but recently usurped by the spruce; and he supposed that the birch had first succumbed to the force of the winds, and the spruce promptly taken its place, since, as a general rule, an evergreen growth succeeds a deciduous, and vice versa. We have any number of well authenticated facts similar to this stated by Professor Agassiz, but we cannot give place to them, in this connection, without greatly exceeding our limits.
Dr. Franklin B. Hough, in his recent "Report upon American Forestry," to which we have already referred, says: "It is not unusual to observe in the swamps of the northern states, an alternation of growth taking place without human agency. Extensive tracts of tamarack (Larix Americana) may be seen in northern Wisconsin that are dying out, and being succeeded by the balsam fir (Abies balsamea), which may be probably caused by the partial drainage of the swamps, from the decay or removal of a fallen tree that had obstructed the outlet." The writer of this work resided for a period of ten years or more in Wisconsin, and during that time traversed extensive portions of its territory, both before and after it became a state. As early as 1844, the extensive tamarack swamps of that region were manifestly dying out for the want of the proper nutritious elements in the soil, and the balsam fir rapidly taking its place, especially where the accumulations of soil, resulting from decayed vegetation, were favorable for its appearance. The drainage of the swamps had not been thought of at that time, nor had the swamps themselves been disposed of, to any considerable extent, by the federal government. They were subsequently granted to the state for educational purposes, and afterwards purchased up in the interest of speculative parties.
But the decay of the tamarack had really commenced long before population found its way, in any considerable numbers, into that section of the country; and the balsam fir had begun its usurpation, in many of the swamps, long prior to the advent there of the white man. Neither artificial drainage, nor accidental drainage, had anything to do with the appearance of the balsam fir, or the disappearance of the tamarack. The latter was manifestly dying out for the want of the proper nutriment, and the former coming in for the reason that the soil was chemically balanced for the development of its "primordial germs"—those everywhere implanted in the earth, to await the necessary conditions for their development and growth. The natural seeds of this balsam fir were not present in either the first, second, or third tamarack swamp in which this alternation of growth originally took place. The change commenced as soon as conditions favored, and not before. It is safe to say that, in none of these tamarack swamps, was there a single balsam fir cone, or a single chit to a cone, nor had there probably been for thousands of years, before the time when the first balsam fir made its appearance in that section. They came, as all primordial forests come, from germs, not from the seeds of trees. Universally, the germ precedes the tree, as the tree precedes the seed, in all vegetal growths, from the lowest cryptogam to the lordliest conifer of the Pacific slope. Otherwise, we should be logically driven back to an act of "specific creation," which the materialist stoutly rejects, and the Bible genesis nowhere affirms.
Mr. George B. Emerson, in his valuable work on the "Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts," suggests as a cause (undoubtedly the true one) for the dying out of old forests, "the exhaustion of the nutritious elements of the soil required for their vigorous and successful growth." But he is evidently at fault in his speculations as to the alternations of forest growths. The Cretan labyrinth that everywhere confronts him is the "seed-theory," which is so inextricable to him that he constantly stumbles, as one scientifically blind, yet eager to lead the blind. All the phenomenal facts with which he deals admirably fit into the Bible genesis, but he fails to see it because the sublime truth (with him) lies locked up in an unmeaning translation. He is indefatigable, however, in his hunt after seeds where there are no seeds, and in his jumps at conclusions where there are manifestly no data to justify them.
He says: "Nature points out in various ways, and the observation of practical men has almost uniformly confirmed the conclusion to which the philosophical botanist has come from theoretical considerations, that a rotation of crops is as important in the forests as in the cultivated fields." And he supplements this statement (measurably a true one) by adding that "a pine forest is often, without the agency of man, succeeded by an oak forest, where there were a few oaks previously scattered through the woods to furnish seed." This is a very cautious, as well as circumspect, statement; but one that Mr. Emerson would not have made, had his experience and observation been that of Professor Agassiz, Professor Marsh, and others we might name. His few oaks previously scattered through the woods are no doubt among the "theoretical considerations" taken into account by him, as a philosophical botanist rather than a practical one. They were necessary for the extreme caution with which he would state a proposition when its "conditioning facts" were not fully known by him. His anxiety to account for the appearance of an oak forest in the place of a pine, where the latter had been cut off, was commendable enough to justify him in a pretty broad supposition, but not in any such general statement as he here makes. Had he consulted any of the older inhabitants of Westford, Littleton, and adjoining towns, in his own state, he would have found that not a few oak forests had succeeded the pine without the intervention of "scattered oaks," or even scattered acorns, in the localities named. Nor would his "squirrel-theory" of distribution have been very confidently adhered to, fifty years ago, in localties where the shagbark walnut was almost as abundant as the white oak itself. No squirrel will gather acorns where he can possibly get hickory nuts, and few will gather hickory nuts where the larger and thinner-shelled walnuts are to be had for the picking. The squirrel is provident, but no more so than he is fastidious in the choice of his food. He never plants acorns except for his own gratification, and is never gratified with indifferent food so long as he can command that which is to his liking.
In further speaking of the "exhausted elements" of the soil—those necessary for the food of trees as well as plants, and without which they inevitably perish and disappear—Mr. Emerson says; "This is clearly indicated in what is constantly going on in the forests, particularly the fact which I have already stated, and which is abundantly confirmed by my correspondents, that a forest of one kind is frequently succeeded by a spontaneous growth of trees of another kind." In the sense in which he manifestly uses the term "spontaneous" in this connection, his new forest might be accounted for on the theory of "primordial germs," but not on that of "seeds;" for few trees or shrubs in Massachusetts bear winged seeds, or possess any other means of dispersion (the Acer family excepted) than those common to our general forest growths. Spontaneity, in a strictly scientific sense, is not predicable upon the artificial or chance sowing of either acorns, hickory nuts, or the chits to pine cones. A spontaneous growth implies a process which is neither usual nor accidental—a growth without external cause, but from inherent natural tendency—and it is questionable whether there is any such process in nature. It belongs to the same class of idle speculations as "spontaneous generation" in the infusorial world—a subject that will be considered as we advance in this work.
Our vegetable physiologists, Mr. Emerson among the number, are simply unfortunate in their use of terms—those expressing even the commonest operations of nature. In their genesis of plants and trees they need to adhere a little more closely to the genesis of induction, and use language in harmony with the phenomenal facts and characteristics which they are called upon to explain. But Mr. Emerson was not alone at fault in this almost universal slip of the scientific pen. He quotes from a letter of Mr. P. Sanderson, of East Whately, Mass., in which the writer says: "There is an instance on my farm of spruce and hackmatack being succeeded by a spontaneous growth of maple wood;" and he adds that "instances are also mentioned by him (Mr. Sanderson) of beech and maple succeeding oaks; oaks following pines, and the reverse; hemlock succeeded by white birch in cold places, and by hard maple in warm ones; beech succeeded by maple, elm, etc; and, in fact, the occurrence was so common that surprise was expressed at the asking of the question."
These several alternations in timber growths, effectually vouched for by Mr. Emerson, occurring "spontaneously" as stated, can hardly be accounted for on any other theory than the presence of "germs" and "favoring conditions," such as we have named in connection with the Bible genesis. They might possibly be explained on the theory of "scattered seeds," if the several growths had made their appearance gradually, and not "spontaneously," as stated. The misfortune with Mr. Emerson, as well as with his several "reliable correspondents," was, that his facts are too meagrely imparted, in the necessary details, to draw any satisfactory conclusions from them—such as the nearness or distance of surrounding trees of the same species, and the possible chances of their seeds taking lodgment in the soil from which they grew. But, fortunately, there are facts, and those abundantly substantiated, which entirely negative the presence of seeds in the soils where these "spontaneous growths" are said to have appeared. In some instances, they cover large tracts of land, at distances of thirty, forty, fifty, and even hundreds of miles, from any native forest from which seed could have been derived.
Dr. Dwight, in the second volume of his "Travels," mentions visiting a town in Vermont (Panton, near Vergennes), in which a piece of land that had been once cultivated, but was afterwards permitted to lie waste, "yielded a thick and vigorous growth of hickory, where there was not a single hickory tree in any original forest within fifty miles of the place." Of this piece of land he says: "The native growth here was white pine, of which I did not see a single stem in the whole grove of hickory." He is greatly puzzled to account for this isolated growth of hickory, but readily concludes that "the fruit was too heavy to be carried fifty miles by birds; besides" he adds, "it is not eaten by any bird indigenous to Vermont." And even if the birds had carried the nuts thither, not one of them could have been planted there unless the nut-eating bird had been caught and destroyed on the spot, and the nut released from its crop. This might account for the appearance of a single tree, but not for a "whole grove of hickory;" and the squirrels certainly could not have been provident enough to plant any considerable grove in this particular locality, and nowhere else within fifty miles of it. The winds could not have borne them that distance without dropping a single nut by the way, and there is only one supposition left, which is that indicated in the Bible genesis.
While Dr. Dwight emphatically rejects the "transportation theory," he imagined he had solved the difficulty in his suggestion "that the cultivation of the land had brought up the seeds of a former forest, within the limits of vegetation, and given them an opportunity to vegetate." But the utter absurdity of this theory may be demonstrated by any one inside of two years, by placing hickory nuts, in different soils, at a depth to which an ordinary plough-point would reach in cultivation; and then, at the end of the second year, examining those that did not germinate the first year. The commonest observer of a hickory forest knows that if the fallen nuts do not germinate the first year, their vitality is utterly and hopelessly gone. It makes no difference whether you leave the nuts on the ground where they fall, or place them one inch or twenty inches beneath the soil, the result will be the same. At the end of two years, you can pulverize them between thumb and finger almost as easily as so much dried loam. The idea of deriving a new forest from such nuts, is hardly less absurd than that of emptying the Egyptian catacombs of their old mummy-cases, in the expectation of seeing a race of Theban kings stalking the earth as before the foundations of either Carthage or Rome were laid.
Dr. Dwight was a very close and accurate observer of nature, and suffered few of even the minor points of detail to escape him. In the same work, as well as in the same connection, he gives an account of another forest, which he supposes sprang spontaneously from "the seeds of an ancient vegetation." He says: "A field about five miles from Northampton (Mass.), on an eminence called 'Rail Hill,' was cultivated about a century ago (circiter 1720). The native growth here, and in all the surrounding region, was wholly oak, chestnut, etc. As the field belonged to my grandfather, I had the best opportunity of learning its history. It contained about five acres, in the form of an irregular parallelogram. As the savages rendered the cultivation dangerous, it was given up. On this ground there sprang up a grove of white pines, covering the field and retaining its figure exactly. So far as I remember, there was not in it a single oak or chestnut tree;" and he adds, "there was not a single pine whose seeds were, or, probably, had for ages been, sufficiently near to have been planted on this spot." He supposes, however, that the "seeds" (pine cone chits) had lain dormant for ages before cultivation brought them up "within the limits of vegetation."
As early as 1807, Judge Peters, of Philadelphia, became satisfied that all that elevated region around the head waters of the Delaware, Alleghany, and Genesee Rivers, then covered with heavy growths of hemlock, or with forests of beech and sugar-maple, was originally an oak forest, probably covering most of that entire region. And Mr. John Adlum, of Havre de Grace, Md., who originally surveyed the lands south of the great bend of the Susquehanna, between that river and the Delaware, conceived the same idea as early as 1788. The section surveyed by him was chiefly covered with beech and sugar-maple; in fact, it was in what was called, at the time, "the beech and sugar-maple country." He drew his inferences from the fact that he found, here and there, at irregular intervals, red and white oaks growing to an enormous size, none being less than sixteen feet, and many measuring twenty-two feet or more, in circumference five feet above the ground. He says that "the hemlock in this region seems to have succeeded the oak, while the beech and maple no doubt succeeded the hemlock." This last inference would seem to have been made from the fact that clumps of large hemlock trees were, at that time, still growing at intervals among the larger deciduous trees.
Indeed, there is no better established fact in vegetable physiology than that of these alternations of forest growths. They sometimes come on gradually, but, in a majority of instances, they make their appearance at once on the cutting off of old forests, in the tracks of tornadoes, or where fire has devastated extensive regions of timber. From the facts which have been gathered, it is difficult to determine any regular order of alternation, except that oaks and other deciduous trees succeed the different varieties of pine and other evergreen growths, and, perhaps, vice versa. In Dr. Hough's report upon American Forestry, he makes a brief summary of the order of these alternations in different sections of the country, on the authority of persons apparently more or less well-informed on the subject, but by no means accurate observers. He says that in the region about Green Bay, Wis., overrun by the fires of 1871, "dense growths of poplars and birches have sprung up, and are growing rapidly;" but he omits the most important fact of all, in his failure to state the previous growths of timber, or whether there were any neighboring growths of poplar along the track of the burnt district from which seed might have been derived.
Here are some of his more important statements:—
"At Clarksville, Ga., oak and hickory lands, when cleared, invariably grew up with pine. This is true of that region of country generally."
"At Aiken, S.C., the long-leaf pine is succeeded by oaks and other deciduous trees, and vice versa."
"In Bristol County, Mass., in some cases, after pines have been cut off, oak, maple, and birch have sprung up abundantly."
"In Hancock County, Ill., oaks have been succeeded by hickories."
"In East Hamburgh, Erie County, N.Y., a growth of hemlock, elm, and soft maple, was succeeded by beech, soft maple, and hard maple, but a good deal more of the last named than any other."
This is the general character of the summary given, and if its object were simply to show the fact that these alternations actually took place (one that nobody has disputed in the last half century), his chapter on the "Alternations of Forest Growths," is a scientific success. The information really desired in these cases, was that imparted by Dr. Dwight in his suggestive work of travel, in which all the incidental facts and surrounding circumstances are fully given. It does not appear from any of the foregoing statements, given as a specimen, that there were any neighboring trees sufficiently near to have supplied seed for the new forests taking the place of the old,—manifestly the most important physiological fact connected with the whole inquiry, whether looking to proper forest-management, or to future "schools of forestry," certain to be established in this country, as they have been in most of the leading countries of Europe.
It is, however, stated by Dr. Hough, in his voluminous report, that, "in New England, the pine (without giving its varieties) is often succeeded by the white birch, and, in New Jersey, by the oak; the succession of oak by pine, and the reverse, in the southern states." And it is further stated, without reference to the nature and quality of the different soils, or the absence or presence of neighboring seed-trees, that "poplars and other soft woods are very often found coming up in pine districts that have been ravaged by fire." "We have noticed," he continues, "in Nebraska, ash, elm, and box-elder following cottonwood. In the natural starting of timber in the prairie region of Illinois, where the stopping of fires allowed, we often see a hazel coppice; after a time the cratA gus, and finally the oaks, black-walnuts, and other timber. These growths are often quite aggressive on the prairies. In Florida, the black-jack oak usually takes the place of the long-leaf pine." In all these cases, the contiguousness of similar, or dissimilar growths, is not stated.
He nevertheless cites a most important fact respecting the alternations of timber growth, noticed by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, in his overland journey from Montreal to the Arctic Ocean, in 1789, who found, in the vicinity of Slave Lake, that the banks were covered with large quantities of burnt wood lying on the ground, where young poplar trees had sprung up immediately after the destruction of the previous growths by fire. In noticing this fact, the indefatigable English explorer remarks: "It is a very curious and extraordinary circumstance that land covered with spruce, pine, and white birch, when laid waste by fire, should subsequently produce nothing but poplars, where none of that species of tree was previously to be found". But facts of a similar character are too numerous and well-authenticated to be questioned by any intelligent authority. And they all point to but one solution—that of primordial germs quickened into life by the necessary environing conditions. The appearance of a single poplar in the locality named, or even a dozen of them for that matter, might be accounted for on the theory that a bird of passage had dropped them there after the fire; but, under no conceivable circumstances, could the dispersion of the requisite amount of seed to plant an extensive burnt district, along the banks of Slave Lake, have occurred on any other theory than that emphatically set forth, as a physiological fact, in the Bible genesis.
There is manifestly importance enough attaching to this subject to justify a much wider range of observation and inquiry than has yet been made. Pine forests have been cut off in Alabama and Georgia, covering extensive areas, where there was not a single oak tree in a circuit of miles; and yet the oak has promptly made its appearance, in several varieties, over the whole cleared district. And it is entirely safe to say that, had the ground been thoroughly examined, from the surface to ten feet below it, after the pine had been felled, not the first sign of an acorn could have been met with anywhere within the whole area of the clearing, no matter whether it covered ten acres, twenty, or a hundred. The paths of the tornadoes we have referred to conclusively show this. The new-born forests, in these cases, do not come from seed, but from the living, indestructible, vital principles implanted in the earth, before it was specifically commanded to "bring forth," in the language of the Bible genesis. The "materialists," like Professor Bastian, Herbert Spencer, and others, may sneer at this declaration, but let them advance some rational theory to the contrary, to account for these alternations of forest growths, before they lay bare the joints of their scientific armor too confidently to the thrusts of the next new-comer in the field of scientific investigation. Sneers are cheap weapons—the mere side-arms of pretension and frippery—but they never bear so deadly a gibe as when effectually turned on the sneerer.
Professor Moritz Wagner, in his description of Mount Ararat, mentions "a singular phenomenon," to which his guide drew his attention, "in the appearance of several plants on soil lately thrown up by an earthquake, which grew nowhere else on the mountain, and had never been observed in this (that) region before." This writer, thereupon, goes into a disquisition upon the vitality of long-buried seeds, but only to mar the value of his very important observation. The fact that these new plants were rejected by the other soil of the mountain—that not thrown up by the earthquake—is the only other observation of value made by this writer. And the importance of this one observation lies in the apparent, if not conclusive fact, that the conditions of the other soil of the mountain were not favorable for the development of the primordial germs, or vital units, contained in that which was thrown up by the earthquake, a circumstance that most materially strengthens the view we have taken, as all candid and impartial readers will agree.
Mr. Darwin inadvertently makes a very material concession in favor of the theory we have advanced, although unconscious of any such theory, except that so broadly and unqualifiedly put forth by the "panspermists" as to meet with a ready refutation. He is laboring, of course, to strengthen his position that nature eternally works to get rid of her imperfect forms, or to ensure "the survival of the fittest." But while his facts accomplish little in this direction, they establish much in another, as the reader will see. He says: "In Staffordshire, on an estate of a relative, where I had ample means of investigation, there was a large and extremely barren heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man; but several hundred acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five years before, and planted with scotch fir. The change in the native vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable—more than is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another; not only the proportional numbers of the heath plants were wholly changed, but twelve species of plants (not including grasses and sedges) flourished in the plantation which could not be found on the heath."
The attempt is here made, by Mr. Darwin, to convey an altogether different meaning to his facts than what they will warrant, even as adroitly handled by him. No heath plants were "wholly changed" in characteristics, but only in proportional numbers; nor did the "twelve new species of plants" make their appearance by virtue of any law of variability or selection of the fittest. The growth of scotch fir had simply changed the conditions of the soil, so that certain varieties of heath growth disappeared for the want of "necessary conditions," and certain varieties of forest growth made their appearance because conditions favored. Similar, if not greater changes, are constantly occurring in hundreds of localities in New England, where choked and worn-out pasture lands are left, untouched by the hand of man, to grow up as best they may into new forests. The open-field plants and shrubs entirely disappear, as the stronger and more aggressive trees, taking root in favoring soils, advance in the struggle for supremacy, while the less hardy and more modest plants—those quietly seeking shelter in the woods—make their appearance, because they find, beneath the shade of the usurping forest, the precise conditions necessary for their more successful growth.
No perishable seeds have been awakened from their "sleep of untold centuries" by these changed conditions of the soil; but nature, everywhere obeying the divine mandate, brings forth her implanted life in all its bountiful diversity of stalk, leaf, bud, bough, blossom, fruit,—not in obedience to man's husbandry alone, but because, as the "vicar of God," she must provide for her benefice. "Let the earth bring forth" is the eternal fiat. Nature forever heeds it, and forever obeys it. "Oh, ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, doubt it if ye will." But forget not that nature has her "compunctious visitings," and will rise up in insurrection against you. Nothing in her breast lies dormant for ages, or even for an hour. Her appointed times and seasons forbid it. If the butterfly does not sport in her sunshine to-day, it is because it lies dead in its golden-colored shroud, and can never become a butterfly. In all her profusion and prodigality—flinging her glittering jewels, even in mid-winter, over all her enamored woods, and causing her little fountains to leap up from their crystal beds in delight, that they may be frozen, mid-air, into more sparkling jets—she exhibits no such munificence as in her unsparing prodigality of life. To be prodigal in this was the first command she received, and her great heart constantly throbs to give it expression. And in all this she simply obeys a kindly law which has been implanted in her bosom, and can never be displanted. She has no need of seeds in her cunning laboratory to perpetuate plant-life, and only yields them to man for use, and not abuse. He can utilize them if he will, so that all things of beauty and golden-fruited promise shall be his. In the language of her greatest and most profoundly philosophical poet,—
"Nature never lends The smallest scruple of her excellence, But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines Herself the glory of a creditor— Both thanks and use."
Those who think, therefore, to make nature a debtor, by reversing her laws of propagation and making her dependent on what she bestows in use, will never find out the smallest scruple of her excellence, nor add to her glory as a creditor. All things are framed in her prodigality, and the seeds of plants and trees are no exception to the quality of her bestowals. We may reason, syllogize, speculate as we will, the first plant and the first tree were not nature's thankless bastards, but her legitimate and loving offspring. She engendered them in her own fruitful breast, and her "copy is eterne."
The Distribution and Vitality of Seeds.
Few questions have attracted more attention among vegetable physiologists, of late years, than the dispersion and migration of seeds from place to place in the earth, and it is safe to say that none has been more unsatisfactorily answered. In the case of quite a number of plants and trees, special contrivances would seem to have been provided by nature for insuring their dispersion, as well as migration. With a small number of plants, for instance, the seeds are discharged for short distances by the explosive force of their seed-vessels, when properly matured; an equally small number have certain membranous contrivances, called "wings," by which they may be borne still greater distances; others, again, are provided with light feathery tufts, to which the seed is attached, and these may be carried by the winds several miles before finding a lodgment in the soil; while many others are inclosed in prickly and barb-pointed coverings by which they attach themselves to animals, and even birds, and may be transported to almost any distance. But with the great majority of plants and trees, as the seeds fall so they lie, and must continue to lie until they either germinate or perish, or are accidentally dispersed or scattered by some extrinsic agency. The anxiety of speculative botanists to account for the recognized alternations of forest and other growths, have led to the different theories of transportation we have named; and when these theories have been supplemented by the alleged wonderful vitality of seeds, in the cunning recesses in which nature manages to conceal them, they imagine the whole difficulty solved, when, in point of fact, it remains wholly unsolved.
This theory of the "wonderful vitality" of seeds is simply one, as we have said, to force a conclusion—to get rid of a lion in the scientific path. Professor Marsh, with other eminent and scholarly writers on vegetable physiology, scouts the idea that the seeds of some of our cereal crops have been preserved for three or four thousand years in the "ashy dryness" of the Egyptian catacombs. But what better repository in which to preserve them? Certainly, none of our modern granaries, with all their machinery for keeping the grain dry, or from over-heating. Nor are the catacombs to be despised, as compared with any out-door means of storage yet suggested by the wit of man. The only means nature has of storage, or rather of preservation by storage, is to welcome the seed back to her bosom—the earth from which its parent-seed sprang—where it may be speedily quickened into life, and bear "other grain," not itself. For "that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die;" and much more is that dead which is not quickened. Whenever seed is thus returned to nature's bosom—all-palpitating as it is with life—whether it quickens or not, it dies; and there is no resurrection for dead seed from the earth, any more than there is for the occupants of the exhumed mummy-cases of ancient Thebes.
The belief in this wonderful vitality of seeds, in the positions in which nature deposits them, is pretty much on a par with that which assigns a thousand years to the life of a crow. As nobody but the scholastic fool in the fable has ever attempted to verify the correctness of this latter belief, so it is safe to assume that the experiment of verifying the former will not be successfully undertaken within the next thousand years, to say the least. It is well known that the vitality of seeds (so far, at least, as nature handles them) depends, upon her cunning contrivances for their preservation, as well as their dispersion. But many seeds, in which these contrivances would seem to be the most perfect, will not germinate after the second year, and few will do so to advantage after the third or fourth year, even when they have been kept under the most favorable circumstances, or in uniform dryness and temperature. Farmers, who have had practical experience in this matter, and care little for what is merely theoretical, will never plant seed that is three or four years old when they can get that of the previous year's growth. It is certain that no hickory nut will retain its vitality beyond the first year of its exposure to a New England soil and climate, and few seeds are better protected by nature against such exposure; and it is equally questionable whether the chits to Dr. Dwight's pine cones would have had any better chance of survival at the time the Indians infested the neighborhood of Northampton, and regularly fired the woods every autumn.
Although Professor Marsh confidently says, in his work on. "Man and Nature," that "the vitality of seeds seems almost imperishable while they remain in the situations in which nature deposits them," he will no doubt admit that this statement rests on no experimental knowledge, but simply on the hypothesis that the new forests and new species of plants to which he refers, originated from seeds, and not from primordial germs everywhere implanted in the earth. Dr. G. Chaplin Child, who swallows the "Egyptian wheat" story, mummy-cases and all, in speaking of some of the English "dykes" or mound-fences which have existed from time well-nigh immemorial, says: "No sooner are these dykes leveled than the seeds of wild flowers, which must have lain in them for ages, sprout forth vigorously, just as if the ground had been recently sown with seed." He also mentions, as a more or less remarkable fact, "that a house, which was known to have existed for two hundred years, was pulled down, and, no sooner was the surface soil exposed to the influence of light and moisture, than it became covered with a crop of wild-mustard or charlock." And he instances these facts to show that the seeds of this charlock, and these dyke plants, had lain dormant in the soil from the time the dykes were built, and the house erected. But these physiological facts, however well authenticated they may have been, are no more conclusive of the presence of dormant seed, than the appearance of the common plantain about a recently built dwelling-house, where none ever grew before, is proof that the seeds of this common household plant had lain dormant for ages before the house was erected. We cannot tell why this common plant follows the domestic household, any more than we can tell why rats follow civilization. But they are both sufficiently annoying at times, to satisfy us that they do follow, however inexplicable the reason may be.
The same writer further says, in connection with the foregoing statements: "Instances (of the vitality of seeds) might easily be multiplied almost indefinitely, but we shall be satisfied with noticing one of a very extraordinary kind. In the time of the Emperor Hadrian, a man died soon after he had eaten plentifully of raspberries. He was buried at Dorchester. About twenty-eight years ago, the remains of this man, together with coins of the Roman Emperor, were discovered in a coffin (!) at the bottom of a barrow, thirty feet under the surface. The man had thus lain undisturbed for some 1700 years. But the most curious circumstance connected with the case was, that the raspberry seeds were recovered from the stomach (!) and sown in the garden of the Horticultural Society, where they germinated and grew into healthy bushes," Here is circumstantiality enough to satisfy the most unlimited skepticism, provided that the facts were satisfactorily vouched for by the living, and the record left by the dead were sufficiently explicit in detail, and conclusive in identity of subject. Then to suggest even a reasonable doubt would, we admit, be equivalent to making truth a circumstantial liar.
But this most remarkable story will bear repetition, with a few running comments. "The man (presumably a Roman soldier) died seventeen hundred years ago." This is not unlikely. "He died of eating too plentifully of raspberries;" a circumstance not altogether improbable. "He was buried at Dorchester;" where, of course, there were no records of deaths and burials kept at the time, and hence, we should have to question the record, if one were presented. "He was also buried in a coffin, or, at least, dug up in one." This statement must be received cum grano. The Romans never used coffins, and, under the empire, they burnt most of their dead. After a battle, however, they generally piled them up in heaps, and, where there was a lack of fuel to burn them, they covered them with the surface soil, taking good care to put a Roman coin in each soldier's mouth, so that he might pay the ferryman in Hades. "There was thirty-five feet of surface soil shoveled on top of this particular Roman,"—showing that he was a very consequential personage in camp. No wonder, then, that all these nice particularities of statement should have been circumstantially noted in the commanding general's "order of the day," and thus been handed down to posterity for the future advancement of science! "He had lain undisturbed for nearly two thousand years." Almost any one would have done so, with that amount of surface soil shoveled on top of him. "The seeds were recovered from his stomach;" that is, after improvidently snatching away the Roman soldier's life, they took good care to preserve their own, as well as the stomach in which they were deposited. "The seeds were planted in the Horticultural Society's garden, where they flourished vigorously."